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Doing what’s most nourishing in the moment

A powerful way of cultivating self-compassion

A couple months ago, I stumbled upon a Brandon Stanton interview as part of Tim Ferriss’s extremely popular show: “The Tim Ferris Show”. Tim and Brandon were speaking about life advice, when the latter candidly shared: “If nothing else matters, except for how I spend my time, I always wonder, what is the most nourishing thing I can do at any given moment?”.

I wrote it down as part of my “Notes” and kept it in the back of my head throughout the summer.

I felt every word in the core of my being.

The word “nourishing” comes from the latin word “nutrire”, that is, to feed. When we choose what is most nourishing, we our feeding ourselves. When we choose the hardest way forward, we are depleting ourselves instead.

Despite knowing the theory, we almost never choose the most nourishing path. It’s not that we like to sabotage ourselves (some of us do!), but we get a bigger “rush” when we accomplish something that entailed taking the hardest route possible.

These days, I struggle with always choosing the hardest path. I trust that, if something can be more nourishing for me, it is probably best that I undertake that option instead.

Choosing what is most nourishing for us at any given moment is key for cultivating self-compassion.

And it is a choice we make on a daily basis, possibly every hour or minute too. For example, if you are running late for work, what is the most nourishing way forward?

Many of us would beat ourselves up for being late in the first place. We would then choose a method of transportation that would enable us to get to work as soon as possible. A taxi, perhaps.

On our way there, it is likely that we are still beating ourselves up, not only because we are late, but also because we are taking a taxi to work (considered to be a luxury for many).

Sounds familiar? Is being hard on ourselves nourishing? Not really.

The nourishing option is always available though:

Are we going to allow ourselves to sleep in an additional 30 minutes if we had a rough night? Are we going to choose to pause and take a deep breath in the middle of a hectic day? In our yoga class, are we going to choose the most gentle pose, even if it means being the odd one out in the group?

Of course, we can’t always get it right.

Knowing how to fall from it and get back into it without the voice of self-judgement is part of the nourishing practice! Indeed, it’s a constant reminder.

Whenever the voice that says “do more, do better, do it now” kicks in, I quickly identify her and tune her volume down. In that moment, I come back to this question: what is most nourishing for me, now?

Ask yourself this question, as frequently as you can. Over time, you will feel greater compassion towards yourself and those around you!

So, what is the most nourishing thing you can do for yourself right now?

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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