How a Daily Pause Changed My Life – 15 Minutes at a Time

Pausing daily makes a positive difference in the quality of your life.

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Pongsak Tawansaeng / EyeEm/ Getty Images
Pongsak Tawansaeng / EyeEm/ Getty Images

Years ago, I was struggling with conflicting priorities, and work and home life balance, and was hearing the same from some of my clients and friends. Everyone seemed to be in a state of stress and busyness. Technology was a contributing factor. Even though it has a lot of benefits, it also has plenty of pitfalls when we aren’t paying attention. If you are like me, you might wake up in the morning and immediately check your phone or computer for emails and messages. Then the next thing you know, you are knee deep in it. I realized this was not the way I wanted to start my day, much less live my life.

The challenge isn’t that life is busy or stressful, it’s how we respond to the situations, stressors, and dramas that we find ourselves in daily. This meant creating a new habit to put myself on my priority list.

I used to think it was selfish to put myself first. What I’ve come to learn is that it’s selfish not to. Now, when I am taking care of my needs, I’m more joyful, calm, and better-equipped to take care of other’s needs and manage my mood as well.

Think back: When was the last time you put yourself at the top of your priority list, or took time to simply enjoy life’s little pleasures, like savoring your morning cup of coffee or tea? It’s hard to do when we are drinking that coffee or tea while driving, texting, talking, or on our way to a meeting.

After having a conversation with one of my friends, Lilamani, we decided to challenge ourselves to PAUSE every day for just 15 minutes. How hard can it be? After all, we all have 15 minutes to spare, right? Lilamani decided to pick up her paintbrushes after twenty years and paint again. I decided that I was going to go for a walk every day. That seemed simple enough and doable. It would help me create a habit. I just had to walk out my door.

At first, it was a battle in my mind to get out the door. I realized that I was hearing what I call the “Meddler,” the negative voice in your head that sabotages, complains, and finds fault. The problem was that I needed to stop listening to this Meddler voice and pay attention to what I refer to as the “Player” voice in my head, the one that cheers you on, supports you, and inspires you to dream big, go for what you want, and to speak up. Listening to and activating my “Player” voice was the first step literally in getting me out the door. Besides, this was a challenge, and I didn’t want to go back to Lilamani and say, “I couldn’t do it.”

Noticing how this simple pause was positively impacting me shifted the way I starting living my life. It wasn’t overnight. It was small steps in 15 minute increments. I started walking out the door, and while, yes, there were a few days that I didn’t, I still got back out there. Soon 15 minutes became 20, and on some days, I walked for 30 minutes or more. I noticed that I felt better, my mood was lighter, and so was my weight.

This 15 minute pause challenge literally changed how I looked and felt. So I started challenging a few of my clients and friends. It made a big difference to Lilamani as well. She not only continues to paint — she’s now selling her artwork worldwide. And I started applying this 15 minute pause to other areas of my life, because if it could positively impact one area, why not others?

This habit of pausing made me start my day by not looking at my phone. I started putting it away when I was with family or friends. This simple yet powerful pause opened my eyes to enjoying the moment, to see there was more joy in my life, to be grateful for what I had rather than complain about what was wrong with my life. Beware, the “Meddler” loves a good sob story!

What I’ve learned is that we all have 15 minutes in our day, it’s all just about how we choose to spend it. And if we aren’t aware, we can let the “Meddler” run our lives — or we can pause and pay attention to the positive “Player” instead, and see how life can change for the better. As a result, my life is more joy-filled and purposeful.

Become a Pauser. I challenge you to pause for 15 minutes every day. Try it, you might just see more joy-gems along the way. I did!

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