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Mindfulness, a Smile and Gratitude

Three techniques to apply in 2018

"Another Prayer" El Mac and Retna, Newport Beach, CA 2009. Photo by Max English, 2012. 

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

While we rush around to make the holidays special while simultaneously rushing to close out the year and accomplish all that we set out to do before 2018, please remember three free techniques: Mindfulness, a Smile and Gratitude.

Mindfulness is a skill and, with practice, it can become an everyday habit for you. Research shows that Mindfulness helps to manage stress, increase awareness, decrease insomnia and increase performance. Research has proven this technique to be an evidence based therapeutic modality in healthcare.

Take a moment to pause. Unwrap your thoughts slowly. Observe and use your senses to anchor yourself in the present moment…. The NOW. Drop all judgment from your thoughts During this season, take a moment to BE. This season, do not bring resentment and old baggage to the table. Stop your train of thoughts from hijacking you when planning for the future. STOP and BE in the now.

Practically, this can be done for a few moments. While you’re walking from the parking lot to your workspace, stop worrying about your “to do” list and instead feel your movement, your feet touching the ground, feel the air, breathe. Simple moments, simple steps allow you to increase focus, become more present and attentive to your surroundings.

A Smile matters. We are in a caregiving environment but many of us become so focused on rushing from one thing to the next that we forget to look up, look our colleagues, friends and family in the eye, and simply smile. Try it. Walk through your hallways at work and experiment with looking down and walking in a fog and looking up, meeting peoples’ eyes, smiling, nodding a brief hello. Watch body language and mood. When you smile, others smile back. When you look at people to smile at them, you can notice something special about them: beautiful eyes, a colorful scarf, a caring touch they have with a family member. In our environment, no doubt when you look up you will also see people whose eyes hold stress, pain and at times grief. Those are the people who need the warmth of a smile and a nod at that moment more than others. We all travel through those moments when we are the ones needing the smile or nod, so please carry and give yours to others this season.

Gratitude, this simple tool, has changed my life. During the Holidays share the practice with your loved ones and the community. Take a moment to start a list of what are you grateful for. It is really easy once you start but soon, you realize that the “things” you are most grateful are free and cannot be bought. Health, love, purpose, time, meaning, faith, the next breath, waking up, a smile, hope, help.

Working in a hospital we all know that nothing is more contagious than emotions. A practice of gratitude is transformative and the giver is touched just as much as the receiver.

Do not go on Holidays without saying thank you to a colleague. Write a note to someone who has impacted you in a positive way. Be specific, he/she will remember this Holiday gift forever.

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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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