These simple seven steps will lead you to emotional independence, increased mental stamina, and most importantly, greater self-awareness. By spending just five minutes every day practicing these steps, you will be on your way to a happier, more liberated and enjoyable life.
Day 1 / Step #1: Gratitude
This exercise is simple and doable. Begin by spending five minutes in total silence. Silence your electronics, tune out all possible distractions, resist singing, humming, or talking, and control the chatter taking place in your mind. Instead of mulling over your problems and life challenges, reflect instead on all the amazing people who share your world, and on the opportunities and blessings that enrich your life.
Now direct your focus within. Marvel that you are alive and breathing. Yes, breathing, in and out, in and out, and in and out. Everything begins with the breath. Follow your breath, so seamless, so miraculous, so involuntary. Can you tell where one breath ends and the next begins? Breathe deeply into your belly and feel it expand. Perceive every cell in your body being infused and refreshed with oxygen. And as you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles and expel your breath. Where does it go? Out into the world, carrying with it dead cells and toxins from your lungs, leaving your body more pure, whole and vibrant.
As you breathe, reflect on the adventure yet to unfold before you in the minutes, hours and day ahead. Today is a chance to begin again. Begin with a slight shift in your mindset. A shift toward gratitude and appreciation for the joy of waking up.
Acknowledge how wonderful it is to be alive in your body, with your arms and legs, your voice, your nose, eyes, ears, and the consciousness to perceive it all. How exquisite it is to see, smell, taste, hear, touch and feel the world around you. How exceptional it is to have a brain to direct your activities, record your every moment, and inspire you with new ideas.
Thank the universe for giving you everything you need to tackle this day. DO IT.
Make these five minutes of gratitude a priority. You can do this simple step anywhere: in the shower, over a cup of coffee, waiting for your lunch order, or while walking the dog, But the most important thing is to DO IT. Five minutes. Easy.
Day 2 / Step #2: PLAY
Let’s play! Find a moment in your day, ESPECIALLY when you feel like you are about to keel over because everything demands your time and attention and your brain seems ready to explode. Pause! Freeze Frame! Take a “Mindful Me” Moment and allow yourself to just be silly and play!
You can participate in some grand act of senseless silliness. You can also restrict yourself to a small, contained activity. Doodle on a napkin. Skip down a hall. Practice juggling. Rotate a hula hoop. Toss some paper basketballs into the recycling. Dance in or out of your chair. Play some balloon volleyball. Twist on a Rubik’s cube. Rake the sand in your mini zen garden. Spin a top. Play a little Jenga or some pickup stix. Scratch on a Etch-a-Sketch. Fold some origami or untangle a tangle puzzle. Fidget with a spinner or assemble some Legos. Or bend, stretch and touch your toes.
When I take a time-out to play, sometimes my boys and I jump on the bed and dance to our favorite tunes. Sometimes we even video our goofy fun and then watch it together later as we sit on the couch! Active, physical play can be helpful as it causes you to move your body, stimulates the flow of blood and lymph, eliminates stagnation, promotes deeper breathing, and helps clear your mind as your body moves through time and space. Play makes the heart and spirit light, and allows the brain to go back to its important work after a brief recess.
Now GO DO IT. Five minutes. That’s all it takes.
NO EXCUSES. Remember excuses are like quicksand to creativity and a mud pit to meaningful manifesting. Play and be productive. Five minutes.
Day 3 / Step #3: SELF CARE
Love, love, love. Start with self-love. Ask yourself today, what do I want that will make ME happy? I am talking about being truly happy. Not superficially enchanted, placated, or entertained. What can I do for myself that will enrich me, promote my personal growth and wellbeing, cultivate my confidence and self-esteem, align me more closely with my true purpose, and make me smile inside? What do I need for myself at this moment, in this time and space, that will sustain, nurture and elevate my body, mind and spirit?
This is not about being selfish. This is about loving yourself enough to recognize what you need, setting healthy boundaries and strategies for cultivating interior growth, and engaging those activities that nourish and enhance your whole being.
I enjoy loads of self-love!! It took me a little while to recognize it, to understand the importance of practicing it, and perhaps most importantly to actually set aside the time to engage it. I find it beneficial to set good personal boundaries and high standards so that people will honor your personal time and space and not intrude. Often people are attracted to high achievers and others who lead purposeful, motivated lives. They can find ways to attach themselves to you psychologically, emotionally, or even financially, and leave you feeling tapped out and dried up. But don’t be a target. Remember that this is your life journey, you alone are in charge, and you must always put your own needs, concerns, and growth first. After all, no one around you can truly benefit unless you take the opportunity to realize your highest potential.
It is important to learn the art of self-love, to not take what others think or say personally, to not be guilted into self-abnegation, and to always do your best while pursuing the adventure of your personal journey. Follow your own path in a mindful way, equipping yourself with the tools and knowledge you will need to fully express your life’s purpose.
This takes time and discernment. Taking the time is a gift you give yourself. So today — say NO to things that are not beneficial to your holistic being. Say YES to experiences that can bring you joy, growth, expansion, good health, new insights, inspiration, and validation. Say YES to yourself.
Day 4 / Step #4: BE PRESENT
“Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear —are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”
— Eckhart Tolle
There is only the NOW. There is no past or future except as memory or anticipation of the mind. This is one of the more challenging truths of a mindfulness practice. As an entrepreneur, I struggle with the importance of being constantly in the Present — especially when vision is a large part of the work I do.
I am all about having a vision, executing the steps necessary to bring it about, and ultimately manifesting it. My perspective then is essentially future based. But “Presence” is absolutely an essential part of my process.
In the NOW, I have awareness, focus and vigilance. I am an antenna, a receiver, one who breathes in the information swirling in my atmosphere. I pay attention to every detail because artisanship is a celebration of painstakingly crafted detail. In my interactions with others, I observe and listen with the depth that opens the gates of intuition. Being present, being in the moment keeps me in touch with guidance and feelings, my visceral reactions, and my sense of “knowing.” It helps inform my craft as I am open to spontaneous downloads of new ideas, interesting directions, and exciting designs and their innovative delivery.
So today, be present to your life, your work, your relationships, your tasks, and your experiences. Listen, observe, breathe in, taste, and touch all that is around you. Let yourself be aware, attuned, and in flow with your environment. Notice what there is to notice: the space between sounds, the air on your skin, the breath moving through your nostrils and into your lungs, the way the earth feels under your feet, and so much more. Be the antenna. Be present. Be in the NOW. See how your world comes alive.
Day 5 / Step #5: NO COMPLAINTS
“Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences. To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.” — Eckhart Tolle
This I have mastered. I rarely complain as it’s somewhat illogical to me. When you surround yourself with complainers, toxic emotions, or negative energy, your brain will pick that up and will start mirroring (It’s called Mirror Neurons). You will mirror body language, mentality, and behaviors that will not serve your highest good. The goal is to develop mental stamina and create an impenetrable shield so that no matter who you are around, you will not let them affect you. It’s like having a superhero power. You will be less reactive to other people’s “stuff,” and instead will be more aware of and in tune with your own thoughts and actions.
When you can “zip up” and not allow other people’s moods, emotional outbursts, or negative states of mind to impact you, you can become an observer. As an observer, you can sidestep immediately engaging situations and risking exacerbating the drama, and instead discern ways to neutralize or remove the emotion from the situation. Think of it as a mental form of the Japanese martial art Aikido, where you do not counter force with force, but instead you observe, understand rhythm and intent, and position yourself in such a way that you are able to defuse any situation, redirect the energy, and bring about a state of harmony and peace.
So remember, always put on your shield in the presence of negativity. If you choose to make a correction, you may respond, but do not react. The latter is drama. When you respond, do it mindfully, with clear understanding and direction, and with the intention of unifying positions and reinstating the harmonious flow of life energy.
Mastering steps #4 and #5 is like combining the best of Yoda + Spock...
Day 6 / Step #6: SELFLESS
I am talking about expecting more from ourselves. About elevating and reaching out further. I’m actually talking about engaging with total strangers and offering them a piece of who we are, where we expect zero in return. No compliments, no acknowledgement — nothing. Not even a smile. It takes so little to give so much. Kindness costs nothing. And it can brighten moods, open doors, save lives, change worlds, and inform the future.
DO IT now. DO IT every day.
Tell someone you don’t know how beautiful they are, buy a stranger a meal, volunteer without seeking notoriety, offer help to someone without them even asking.
Watch your life change before your eyes - as soon as you start offering a piece of your soul back to the universe. Abundance flows to an open and generous heart. Kindness is the currency of the soul.
Day 7 / Step #7: BE HONEST
“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to BE who you are ….” — Brene Brown
Honesty is bravery. It is courageous. And it is the true texture of love. In a world masked with pretense, materialism, fake smiles, hollow loves, and an overemphasis on titles, we have to wonder - what is truth? But answer that only to yourself. Not to your spouse, or parents, or even your friends. What is YOUR truth? What does your SOUL want? Every experience, every challenge, every person we meet comes to us through synchronicity, and not by mistake or happenstance. The universe is asking us to discover and reveal our truths, urging us to be transparent, not only to others, but especially to ourselves. We must work to develop our self-awareness, and become conscious of our soul dimension. Oh yes, we have a choice. We always do. We can shut down and stay small, or we can expand beyond our wildest dreams. We can live in ignorance and fear, or we can seek to know, elevate our consciousness, and become the best version of ourselves. We can love miserly and conservatively, or we expand our hearts to encompass the universe.
It is only in looking deeply into ourselves, in excavating the interior of our souls, in discovering the depth of who we are, and in being brave enough to stand in our truth for all the universe to see, that we can honestly reflect the Light of our essence and impact the world in a positive and meaningful way.
You must first ask yourself “Who am I?” Do you know? Have you embarked upon the journey? It is the most important adventure you will ever take. It is never too late or too soon to begin. Start by asking yourself life’s important questions. They are only for you to answer. No one else can answer them for you. No other opinions matter. This is a conversation between you and your soul. Honesty is mandatory. Take the time. Don’t wait for the universe to give you a harsh course correction (and it will) before you are willing to delve into the depths of your soul. Do the work. It will change your life. Begin now.
Watch Tim Tamashiro's presentation on How To Ikigai