10 simple tips to live happy, wild and free
(by Lynn Newman)
“If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine.” -Morris West
In the past I was not known as a happy, wild, and free person. (OK maybe wild, I had my moments…) In stuck phases, peppered with depression, darkness, and hopelessness, I often wondered what it would be like to feel happy, wild and free. I fantasized about living in Europe, writing in cafes like Hemingway, having wild crazy affairs with sexy men, or even moving to Hawaii and wearing nothing but sarongs and flip flops all day. But in truth, these fantasies were empty.
I knew in my gut that fantasies of escape would not bring authentic happiness or true freedom. Maybe at the onset, but in the end trying to create happiness, wild moments, and freedom outside of myself is only temporary. I’m left with facing whatever is still present within me. Funny enough, I am most happy and free when attending my yearly meditation retreats. Yeah, I know, sitting in a dark room for hours at a time without moving doesn’t seem like the world’s wildest party.But, when I relax, let go, juice up my heart, and get concentrated on the guarding point, my meditation practice takes me to unlimited expansion. There is nothing more that I need.
While meditating I am content, sometimes wildly ecstatic, and blissed-out, but most importantly, I am free. I realize then that my inner-crazy chick’s happiness and freedom exists in the simplest things.When I attune to the simple things that give me joy, my body and spirit ignites! I feel truly alive and wildly happy. I feel free of the heavier burdens, beliefs, and complicated constructs that kept me stuck by focusing only on the “storms” within me.Here are 10 stupidly simple tips to live happy, wild, and free:
- Write out a short-list of the simple things that give you pleasure.
Keep them in the front of your consciousness and make sure you engage with them at least a few times a week. As you do these things, stay present and mindful of the joy they bring you.For example, I love eating a fresh juicy nectarine on a summer’s afternoon, and meditating in the morning after a fresh brewed cup of tea, and taking a walk with my husband and window-shopping. What are some of your simple things?
- Get moving.
Maybe you like the openness and relaxation you feel after a yoga class or the sweat and wild release of spinning. You may enjoy seeing your dog run happily in circles as you throw balls at the park.Whatever movement inspires you, do it and observe the happiness and freedom it brings. Also, take a short walk after having a meal. This not only helps with digestion, but also instantly relieves any heavy feelings.
- Eat light.
Support your body/mind/spirit with simple meals three times a day. On retreat, we eat out of three small bowls, usually a grain, a soup and a vegetable. Eating light helps us to feel lighter and also increases concentration, digestion, energy levels, and productivity.As a practice of mindfulness, I put my eating utensil down between each bite and wait to pick it up again until the food is completely swallowed. It takes 20 minutes for our meal to be digested, so I know if I eat slowly for 20 minutes, I will feel completely satisfied without having to eat large portions.
- Take a cold shower.
Waking up in the morning and taking a cold shower revives and wildly awakens the senses. Here are some benefits of cold showers:
- Improves circulation
- Relieves depression
- Keeps skin and hair healthy
- Increases testosterone and fertility
- Increases energy and well-being
- Talk less, and when you do talk have noble conversation.
When you hang out with your friends and loved ones, learn to love the spaces in the conversation. Listen more to their tone as they share rather than thinking about how you are going to respond.Pay attention to what happens to your energy when you talk less, and how much happier you feel as you conserve more energy. Plus, you will love the simple intimacy of your relationships as you increase presence and heart-centered listening, freeing yourself of complications and unwanted dramas.
- Get 10 minutes of sun a day.
With sunscreen, there are benefits to getting sun. Well-documented research shows there is a relationship between low vitamin D levels and poor health, such as frail bones, multiple sclerosis, and prostate cancer. We need vitamin D! Also, light hitting your skin, not just your eyes, helps reverse seasonal affective disorder. Here comes the sun! Let the sunshine in!
- Turn off the TV.
Rather than watch TV, use your time more mindfully. Read, walk, meet friends, or join an evening group or class. Use your time to connect to others and yourself. Or jump in and do something different, spontaneous, and wild!
Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist there are so many ways to express creatively. Cook with a loved one, dance in your living room, sing in the car, journal without editing or crossing out, learn a new joke.Be happy, wild, and free as you express yourself more creatively!
- Enjoy nature.
Find the nature that surrounds you—really see it. Observe yourself as you witness nature and appreciate its growth and timing.If you feel like things are going too slow, too fast, or you aren’t really sure of where you are going, remember there is a natural timing for everything, and all the roads are taking you to the right place at the right time.Ask yourself, “How can I compare nature’s experience to my life? How am I just like the wild flower that is growing on the path?”
- Know the simple truth.
With enthusiasm and confidence, state what you know to be true about your authentic self. Ask yourself, “What is true about myself right now in this moment?” For example, I am enough, I am worthy, I am good, I am loved, I have what I need, or I am a success. State this affirmation out loud a few times to embody the essence of who you really are in this very moment. Take it in! Believe this and you are free! Keeping your focus on the simplest things offers an immediate experience of abundant joy. May you embrace simplicity in your daily life filled with lightness, movement, and sunshine! What are your simple things that bring light to your life?