Wherever you may live, I hope you are enjoying the return of warm weather as much as I am in Chicago! Much has happened since my last newsletter…. In April, I spent 2 blissful weeks vacationing in Japan during the cherry blossom festival, a week after returning I adopted a dog, Keeper, (whom you have definitely met if you follow Point of Arrival on Facebook), and last week I traveled to the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business for the annual Positive Business Conference!
All of this excitement has me thinking about how magical this time of year is. As Mother Nature emerges and blooms to life, there is a real sense that each of us is coming back to life, re-energizing, and enjoying a fresh start. What I’ve also experienced is that this season is fleeting if you’re not mindful. This brings me to the focus of this month…
4 Steps to Maximize Your Summer & Well-Being
Step 1: Spend Your Money on Experiences, Not Things
Friends often comment to me that I’m always up to something and never let the moss grow under my feet! The reason for this is that I value adventure and experiences, and there’s good reasons that you should, too. Research shows that we get more happiness and enjoyment from experiences than we do material possessions. You’re able to prolong and savor experiences in 3 ways – planning and anticipating, experiencing the event itself, and reminiscing about the memories. Also, many experiences include others, adding a relationship-enriching connection that no new clothes you buy will provide. And, people like to talk about each others’ experiences, adding another layer of social bonding. We ask people about their weekends, hobbies and trips, not their possessions. Experiences make us more interesting, and our commonalities build bridges between us.
Step 2: Get Outside
Nature and the outdoors are good for your mind, body and soul. No time is better than summer to enjoy it! There’s a veritable mountain of studies that reveal how time spent in nature lowers stress, increases cognitive functioning, and how even your proximity to green spaces in urban environments may alleviate anxiety, depression, and a long list of other ailments. I regularly hear stories from others about how nature encourages deep self-reflection and spiritual connection. At a minimum – we’re up from our chairs and moving our bodies, something most of us need more of.
Step 3: Be Mindful and Present
When you’re in the midst of your summer experiences, check-in with yourself frequently by asking, ‘Where is my mind right now?’ The mind has 2 preferred time zones – past and future – while the body only has 1 – the present moment. It takes practice to join the mind and the body in the present moment. The more you practice this, the more you will dissolve stress and worry and allow yourself to appreciate the only experiences you actually have access to – the ones happening RIGHT NOW! Not to mention, the people you’re with will be grateful for your undivided attention and presence.
Step 4: Be Planful and Intentional
This is my client’s #1 complaint – ‘I’m too busy!’ The Washington Post and Huffington Post have both run articles recently about the risks of wearing busyness as a badge of honor and status symbol. My friends, this is a slippery slope to burnout, unproductive social comparison, unhealthy measurements of self-worth, and an inability to cut through and prioritize what is most important in your life! To some degree, busyness is a choice. Let’s all SLOW DOWN and increase our time spent ‘human being’ rather than only ‘human doing’. If you’re not planful and intentional, these next few months of summer will go by in the blink of an eye. Maximize your summer by pausing and thinking about what you want to experience and get out of this special season. Do you want to get out of town, host dinner parties in the backyard, go on retreat, spend time with family? Whatever it is, make a list, get out your calendar, and start planning!
May your energy, experiences, joy and well-being bloom as abundantly as the season!
Here's to sunny days lived to the fullest, Katrina