Why This Quote Should Be On Everyone’s Fridge
“Smile, breathe, and go slowly..” – Thich Nhat Hanh
I stumbled upon this beautiful, simple quote by accident. I can’t even remember where or how, but I remember reading it and thinking “This is gold”. I quickly set it as my phone’s wallpaper and have been using it as a ‘mindful sticky note’ ever since. And to be honest, it should also be taped to the walls in my office, in the supermarket, friends places, in the subway and any other place I ever visit. Not because I am a particularly stressed person, but because I believe that a complete state of relaxation is the key to a deep sense of being and opens the way to personal and spiritual development. Wow, that was quite a sentence.
SEE ALSO: The 5 Step Negativity Detox
Let’s Take It a Bit Slower…
I believe that when we are relaxed, and only when we are relaxed, we are capable of truly experiencing what goes on inside us, as an effect of what happens around us. We can for example experience if our body is tired if our mind is stressed if we are angry or happy, and so on.
And only when we are actually aware of what goes on inside us, we can decide whether we want it to be like this. For example, do you really want to go out tonight, or is it time for a rest? And maybe even more interestingly: Do you want a grumpy cashier to influence your mood? Do you want your stressed-out boss to make you feel stressed too? Do you want to run and stress to catch the bus, or is it also okay to catch the next one?
To Act or React?
Often we are not so much acting in a situation, but more reacting. When someone annoys us or even pisses us off, we react immediately with the first emotion that comes up in our system. Like anger, or disgust, or maybe sadness. The fact that this happens is not so crazy at all. We’ve probably learned along the way to protect ourselves from negativity or hurt, by reacting in a specific way. However, when we would take more time in such a situation, and realize what emotion comes up within us, we are capable of deciding if we would like to react with (for example) anger. We can decide if we want our inner state to be influenced by something so futile as a grumpy cashier.
To Smile, Breathe and Go Slowly
Instead, let’s say that next time we get annoyed, stressed, or discontent, we would first smile, then breathe, and then go slowly. What would happen? When we smile we show compassion. Not just towards the other person, but also towards ourselves. It’s okay that this emotion comes up, let it be there, and then move on. When we breathe, we are alive. We inhale fresh air, fresh energy and we exhale anything we don’t want to hold in anymore. And when we go slowly, we take the time to enjoy and we take the time to decide how and if we want to react.
A Mindful Sticky Note
Of course, this takes practice, because most of us are used to living life in a reactive state in which all our focus is directed towards the outside, and we react in response to what happens outside of us. Being able to take a moment and not just react takes the same amount of dedication as a smoker who doesn’t light his usual cigarette with his cup of coffee. So we should give ourselves all the support and patience we deserve, and setting such a quote as your phone’s wallpaper could be a great start.
Calmness, Freedom, and Other Side Effects
And along the way we’ll probably have some ups and downs – falling back into the reactive state we know so well, and where we’re even quite comfortable sometimes. But all the trying and effort will be worth it. Because when we practice a sustainable state of calmness, we allow ourselves to be free. We allow ourselves to not be victims of our surroundings, but to look inside and dig a little deeper.
And as if this is not beautiful enough, imagine the impact we will have on other people when we
and go slowly..
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