Most mornings, I get woken up by a symphony of bird-song. Our local area has many mature trees and in all the years I’ve lived there, I’ve never heard so many birds. Just this morning, I awoke to the sound of warbling magpies, laughing kookaburras, mournful storm birds, and squawking plovers to name a few! As I lay there listening, I heard more bird sounds, some that I’ve never really noticed before. It’s a pleasant way to wake up and spend the first few minutes of the day (okay, sometimes the storm bird and squawking plover aren’t fully appreciated at 4 am!) The practice of lingering in a positive moment has a name: savouring. It happens when we notice something pleasant, feel good about how good we are feeling, and then try to prolong those feelings.*
I’m not sure about you, but I know that if I start to focus too much on the negative experiences I have or ruminate about what I don’t have, I can be prone to developing PLOM’s Disease (Poor Little Old Me). As well as praying about the situation, the best action I can take is to get outside and go for a walk, and focus on what I see, hear, or feel. If I pay attention to my surroundings, it’s surprising how quickly I recover. One thing I’ve noticed is that I cannot fully appreciate or experience what’s going on around me if I’m trying to multitask or allowing myself to be distracted by technology. If I start checking my phone, I no longer hear the songs of the birds, smell the trees or feel the breeze as I walk.
In my work, I have to be careful to practice what I preach. I often encourage people to be present where they are and appreciate their surroundings or the people they’re with. I have tried to be more deliberate in doing that myself and surprisingly, I feel more content, relaxed and enjoy life more when I do.
If I were to pass on some words of advice for the upcoming holidays, it would be to focus on, enjoy, savour and value what (and whom) you have; really listen to what your partner/child tells you and laugh lots with him/her; forget about perfection; limit personal device use; spend as much time outside as you can; reflect on your blessings and be thankful to God. (Check out the old hymn Count your Blessings.) I intend to follow my own advice this break.
I wish you and your family God’s richest blessings for Christmas and the coming New Year.
*Interesting infographic on savouring: Take a few minutes and work through it – what do you think about it?