5 Ways to Add Beauty to Your Life

5 ways to add beauty to your life

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but don’t let that chestnut fool you into thinking beauty is meaningless–a nice, optional garnish to add to your plate at the buffet of life. Appreciating beauty is essential to living a meaningful life–a life you actually want to live.

There’s a quote from the movie Dead Poets Society that really sticks with you, because it’s true. Robin Williams plays an English teacher instructing his prep school students the importance of beauty in their lives.

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race, and the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

What enriching beauty is, and what it isn’t
When we try to enrich our lives with beautiful things, we might be easily distracted. We’re a distracted generation. So many things draw our attention, or even pose as things of beauty designed to enrich your life. Be mindful: don’t mistake mere sensation or stimulation for beauty.

And don’t be fooled with the idea that appreciating beauty has to involve commercial consumption. You can buy art. But you can’t buy taste.

Stop and smell the roses
Have you ever paused to see the beauty in the world around you? Sometimes all it takes is the initiative to look around and appreciate what’s right in front of you. If you’re into journaling, try writing down one beautiful or awe-inspiring thing you noticed or are grateful for each day.

This is really about deepening your mindfulness and the connection to your senses. Habits like meditation, exercise, regular massage, and getting plenty of sleep can help you open and tune your senses to beauty and wonder.

Read poetry
“I don’t like poetry” I hear you saying, probably because you were force-fed it somewhere in your education. But if you write it off because of that experience, you’re walking away from a gold mine of enrichment, passion, depth, and thought.

A poet’s job is to teach you to see the world in a different way. So let them! See the world through new eyes. Try different poets until you find what you like. You can read a massive library of poems from both classic and modern poets for free at your local library, or at http://www.poetryfoundation.com

Listen to music. No really listen.
You may be used to putting music on in the background of this or that activity in your life–work, driving, getting a massage–but when was the last time you stopped to do nothing but listen?

Is your collection kind of tired? Stream something new, branch out, take a chance on something new. But do it for it’s own sake and really appreciate what’s there.

While you’re at it, go see some live performances once in a while. If you know the rock club scene, try the symphony sometime, or vice-versa.

A little more high, a little less low
Challenge yourself! Push your boundaries. Engage with music or art that’s difficult to grasp, that challenges what you know and dares you to learn more.

Whether it’s music, art, literature, earth sciences, or just about any other subject, there’s a whole world of educational resources out there, some for a fee, many for nothing. Most are online, but don’t forget about your local library. It’s never been easier to catch yourself up and fill in the gaps in your education.

“With what time?” I hear you asking. Try turning off the TV! Your Mom agrees with me on this, and we both know it.

Invest in art
As you’ve built your taste and grown your appreciation for beauty, you may find that you’re ready to take the step of buying some art. Don’t buy for status or prestige. Buy something that speaks to you personally, that you’ll delight in every day, that will remind you of the magnificence to be found in the human spirit.

So roll up that Miley Cyrus poster, put it in the rec room, and put an object of true beauty in the center of your life.

Choose to live the good life!

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to grow your social media presence or build your brand by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

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Swim Into The Wave: How Hiding From Your Emotions Can Destroy You

Swim Into The Wave

For experienced ocean swimmers, waves are just part of the challenge. So it is with life. Waves of emotions can throw us for a loop disorient us, and confuse us before we even have time to process what we’re going through. Unfortunately, our cultural biases have taught us to handle our feelings in exactly the wrong way.

Quick fix
What do you do when you’re hungry? Grab a bite (whether it’s nutritious or not). What do you do when you have a headache or some other kind of pain? Pop a pill. The tendency to want to avoid pain and discomfort is not only understandable, it’s completely natural. But it’s not always the best way to handle things, particularly your feelings.

What’s the quick fix for bad feelings? Take your pick! Food. TV. Pornography. Alcohol. Drugs. Everyone seems to have a favorite. You may feel good temporarily, but put off your self care indefinitely and you’re in for a world of hurt.

Here there be dragons
Think you have total contol over your feelings? Think again. You can control how you respond to what you’re feeling to some extent. But the stronger the feeling is, the more difficult it is to control your response in a given moment. You may soon find that you’re repsonses to things are way out of proportion and make no sense. This is often because of emotional problems you’re refusing to address properly.

So, guess what happens when you try to ignore, cover-up, or otherwise run from what you’re feeling? It gets strong. Your feelings are like a monster that feeds on your resistance. The more you ignore it or deny it’s there, the bigger it gets.

It’s like the dragon in this excellent children’s story:

The more the child bought into the mom’s argument that the dragon didn’t exist, the bigger it got. Before long, it was carrying their whole lives away from them.

Keep going
Winston Churchill said “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” The only way out of an unpleasant feeling is through it. This is true for even serious emotional trauma and grief. Mental health professionals are trained in guiding their clients and patients through the process of feeling and re-living their trauma in the most vivid and detailed way possible. It’s not pleasant at all. But neither is surgery.

Even a massage, when used for treatment, can be very uncomfortable. There seems to be a principle at work that dictates that in order to overcome physical or emotional pain and to heal, one must feel it completely.

Ride into the wave, or risk drowning in it.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to assist with your brand development and marketing my emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com

The Power of No

Charity.jpgYou are a giving person. You care about your family and friends, and even try to help strangers whenever you can.

worn out.jpgBut some days you just can’t take it anymore. You’ve been worn down, turned over, and worn out on the other side as well.

How did this happen?

You may be suffering from a lack of balance in your life.

It may be time to start saying no.

“No”: the other magic word
There’s nothing wrong with being the giving, loving, loyal, valuable individual you are. But sometimes it’s important to remember that you are valuable no matter how much or how little you do. Your value as a person is inherent and infinite. No failing or mistake or limitation on your part can take that away.

Sometimes you need a chance to remind yourself of this. But you can’t do that if you set expectations for yourself too high and commit to too much.

“Can you take on a part of this project for me? I’m just swamped.”

“Do you mind watching my kids tonight? My sitter backed out at the last moment.”

“We were looking for someone to chair the dance committee. Would you be willing to help out?”

If you say yes to one of these things, you have to live with the reality that you may have to say no to the other two. This doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a mortal human being with a predicted lifespan of roughly 80 years only 24 hours allotted to you each day, just the same as everyone else. Thinking you are more than this is a lie you tell yourself, and it’s not doing you any good.

Saying no to things can be powerful because it can get you out of your own way. You’re acknowledging the truth about yourself–that you need care and nurturing just like everyone else. It’s amazing how easy it is to lose sight of that, and lose yourself in the process.

How do I find myself again?
It doesn’t have to take long, and nobody will resent you for taking care of yourself first.

Happy teen

Take a walk.

Study and practice the art of relaxation.

Get a massage.

Breathe.

Results!
Piling your plate with too much may give you some sense of being a busy, accomplished person, but buckle up: other people may not see you that way.

sad little girl.jpg
Your kids may see you as being too busy to give them the attention they crave.

Depressed man working late at nightYour boss may see you as someone who struggles to follow through.

Worried Young Couple In BedYour significant other may be sensing you drifting away.

Mother and Daughter Happy.jpgWhen you take care of yourself, you’ll find that all the people in your life will light up as you engage them more fully and completely with your whole self.

So when you hear that little voice in your head saying you’re “too busy,” that voice may be exactly right.

And now you know what to do about it.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor at The Good Life Massage. Follow him on Twitter @tomgunnpoet

What’s a DOR? This Simple Change Can Reduce Stress and Boost Productivity

It’s ancient–3,000 years old, perhaps more. It’s been debated by the sages and philosophers through the ages. It’s even been the subject of recent best-selling books.

It has the power to make you happier, reduce your stress, and make you more productive every single day.

DOR
Day of Rest, or DOR, comes from religious traditions, but you can enjoy the benefits regardless of your personal beliefs. DOR involves choosing one day of the week to set your daily work and routine tasks aside. You may choose to avoid shopping, your smartphone, and media noise. You can replace these things with spending time with loved ones and reflecting on personal goals. A day of rest can become the keystone of your self care.

DOR is known in Judeo-Christian circles variously as the sabbath, shabbat, or the Lord’s Day. From those traditions, DOR made the jump to the culture at large. In the United States, this idea has a long, though forgotten, history. The sabbath used to be a public institution in most US cities. As late as 1918 stores, factories, and other places of business were routinely closed on Sundays in most US towns and cities. Many places even had laws against activities deemed to be violations of sabbath observance.

Although many people of faith still observe a weekly day of rest, few Christians or Jews take it seriously anymore. To the non-religious or unaffiliated, the idea may be a completely foreign concept. And aside from the custom of the weekend, nothing in the culture today resembles the old DOR customs.

Why DOR is due for a comeback
We’re all busy. In fact, many of us wear our stress like a badge of honor. We all like to feel important, and many of us feel like a booked schedule is proof of that. That “always booked” feeling comes with a cost, though.

Long term stress has been shown to increase risk for some of the most deadly diseases of our time. These including heart disease, stroke, and cancer. That’s not to mention the mental health impact, which can include depression and suicidal thoughts.

You may feel like you can’t slow down, that you have no choice but to be constantly going.

But think again. Whatever pressure you find yourself under, you’re in control of your own decisions. Few of us are so important that it’s impossible to change the way we use our time.

In any case, you can’t take care of anyone unless you take care of you first.

This simple life hack can

  • improve your mental and physical health
  • add to your productivity throughout the week
  • add years to your life
  • help you enjoy whatever precious time on earth you have left

Is it worth it?
Imagine waking up on a day when your email doesn’t matter. Imagine your mind being occupied, not by your frantic schedule or the latest horrors on the news, but on taking care of yourself and those closest to you. Imagine a day free of traffic jams, crowds, or the rush to produce/consume more and more and more.

How to get started
Choose a day with you and your loved ones as a day of rest. Invite others to take part, but don’t force it. You can, though, set boundaries with your friends and family and ask that they respect them. The more support you have, the more likely it is you’ll stick with your new habit.

Weekends work best for most people since those are¬†usually days off work. The day of the week you choose makes little difference, but pick a day where you won’t be going to work . It should also be a day when you can cut loose many of your routine responsibilities with minimal impact on others.

What do I do?
What you do will vary with each person. Focus on self care. Choose activities that will help you reconnect with yourself and others on a personal level.

  • Relax!
  • Read.
  • Do some public service or volunteer work.
  • Visit with friends and family. Is there an elderly or shut-in family member that could use a visit? This would be a great day to stop by and put a smile on their face.
  • Attend worship services.
  • When was the last time you went for a long walk?
  • Is there a hobby you’ve been neglecting?
  • When was the last time you focused your attention and listened closely to music you love?
  • Nap!
  • The list could go on and on.

Is there anything I shouldn’t do?
You’re an adult! Nobody will ground you if you break your own rules. But setting boundaries for yourself and keeping them improves your connection with yourself. It helps you feel like a person of integrity.

Some suggested things you may want to avoid can include

  • shopping
  • the news
  • social media
  • television
  • your job
  • medical or dental appointments
  • going to movies, concerts, or sporting events
  • outdoor sports

Rewards!
That little measure of self-discipline and self care can go a long way. What happens the day after your DOR?

Productivity
You’ll return to work with your mind and body refreshed and ready to handle whatever the day has in store. Having taken some time to think about what’s really important to you, you’ll be able to spend your time on the most important tasks rather than just spinning your wheels with busy work.

Connection
You’ll feel more human! With your over all stress lowered, you’ll find your ability to be patient and compassionate, both with yourself and others, considerably increased.

Health
You’ll have lower risk factors for deadly diseases.A day of rest can be a part of the rhythm of your life–a life extended and improved.

Doing our part
At The Good Life Massage, we are doing what we can to re-introduce a culture that embraces a day of rest and self care. From the beginning, we have only been open six days a week. We give our employees and our clients Sundays off. We encourage everyone to take one day a week to stop and reconnect. We know we’re giving up valuable business in doing this, but to us, self care is worth it. There are more important things than producing and consuming.

A day of rest is a chance to remember who you are: not a producer, not a consumer, not a follower, not a viewer, not a Facebook friend, not a cog in someone’s machine, but a whole and valuable human being.

Give it a try! And enjoy.

Share your experiences and challenges in the comments below.
Tom Gunn is the Marketing Director and official blog editor at The Good Life Massage. You can find him on Twitter @tomgunnpoet or on his website tgunnwriter.com