Life and relationships are essentially linked. Human existence, our basic feelings and experience of being human, derive vitality and meaning from our ways of connecting with and relating to others. This holds true in our personal and in our professional spheres of life. And we need to nurture and reaffirm these connections and relationships continually to sustain their vitality.
A Rhythm to Consider
The way we start and end our days with others is a good place to begin. This includes the way we awaken to the morning and draw our first conscious breaths. The feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations we experience in the morning can be calm or anxious. Our mind may be clear, rested, alert, or we may be in a fog, wanting to roll over and get another hour of sleep. It is what it is in that moment. Can we meet it, accept it, and go from there?
We may be called to action by an alarm clock, arise with an instinctive sense of urgency, and move into a sequence of actions that ready us to rush off to work. Or we may awaken in the company of a significant other, a spouse, partner, or maybe a pet. And noticing that we are with someone we care about, we may take a moment to simply be there with them, perhaps we're up and moving but we're being with them too.
The way we begin our day can include affirming connections and relationships or rushing ahead into a to-do list. Even when there are pets or children who require our attention in the morning, there are choices about how we wish to approach the tasks of attending to them. We can recognize them as tasks and expectations we asked for and wish to perform with love and care, or we can complain or resent them.
How is that you wish to start your day at home? Does it start the way you want it to, even when it includes demands to care for others as well as yourself? How might you wish to design it differently, and how much of that change includes an altered attitude, a readiness to pause even as you move? Do you smile or grimace? Do you breathe or “suck it up”? These are all choices!
And when you get to work, even before you enter and engage with people in the workplace, do you take a moment to notice where you are, how important it might be to notice where others are too – not just physically but emotionally, mentally, attitudinally? Take a breath. Be present. Know that you are a free agent, and that you affect others. How do you want to connect and relate?
Of course, there will be a chain of actions, reactions, and interactions throughout the day that evoke changes in mood, attitude, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Do yourself a favor, take a few timeouts, brief, 2-3 minutes, to pause, breathe, stop the escalation of emotional intensity, rumination, and distraction. Return to the actual now. Then reconnect, relate to others afresh.
At the end of the day, leave work not just physically but also mentally. Close the door as part of leaving, physically and mentally. What am I leaving for tomorrow? Where am I going now? Get yourself ready for the change even as you travel there. And if there’s evening work that you must do, open that door only when it’s time, and close it at a reasonable hour too. Be with those you care about, those you end the day with.
How Are You Doing?
We’ve all heard the adage about how little of our brain’s capacity we actually use. Well, the brain can be taught to operate under the guidance of the mind, the free inner agency of our being. Or we can allow it to run unregulated by a considered awareness of what we truly value and live for – how we want to live. Slow down, breathe, give yourself a chance to freely choose how you live.