Creating Your New Normal
As you ponder what your new normal will look like in the coming months and after the pandemic is over, it might be a good idea to give some focused attention to what brings you joy and actively create your own personal new normal. In this post, you’ll find some ideas and techniques about how to purposefully craft your unique new normal in a way that will bring you greater joy and more inner peace. Life as we know it has been turned upside down, shaken side ways and who knows what right side up may look like in a few months or perhaps even a few years at this point. With so many of the changes in the world and community spinning out of control all around us, focusing on what is within our control can ease stress and bring internal peace. Your mind, body and spirit thrives on a purposely focused path forward. It is up to you to create that path, so that it doesn’t haphazardly get created for you.
What makes you happy?
Let’s begin by narrowing down and getting a clear understanding of what really makes you happy. What makes you smile on the inside? I would suggest carving out a little quiet time to yourself, without the normal daily distractions, to allow the answers to come from the heart as opposed to listening to the first things that pop into your mind. Grab a notebook or blank sheet of paper and a pen and head to a quiet space in your home or better yet, head outside and find a good spot to roost and reflect for awhile. Before you begin, close your eyes and take at least five or six deep full breaths to calm your body and allow your attention to settle inward. Then with attention on your heart space, simply ask yourself the question: what brings me joy? Plan to make several lists:
one list for all the things you like to do that make you feel strong, at peace or joyful,
one list for the things you use that make life flow easily and are a pleasure to work with and
one list of things you enjoy having around simply because they are beautiful or because they hold a sentimental significance to you.
Try not judge anything that speaks to you during this process. Rather, simply write down everything that comes to you - you can fine tune what you ultimately decide to leave on your lists later. The goal is to stay connected to your heart and to listen to your inner wisdom during this exercise. If you begin to analyze your answers, your attention will move to your head and the thoughts will begin to come more from your mind as opposed to the heart.
How would this feel in your new normal?
After you have your lists, read back through each item one by one and consider how each item on the list makes you FEEL. This is the point where you may want to fine tune your list - not by what makes sense in your head, but rather by a gut sense of what is right and good for you. You may want to repeat these exercise several times over the next several weeks or even once a month or so to get even more clarity on what you truly want to make time for and include in your life on a regular basis.
How practical is your self constructed new normal at this time and under the current constraints of social distancing?
Go back through your list one more time and consider whether each is possible at this point in time under the current social distancing guidelines. If the answer is no, get creative and figure out something you could use or do differently to bring you the same or close to the same level of happiness. Consider also the relative expense of doing or having each response on your list. With the economy in its current precarious state, now is a good time to rein in expenses in all directions. Brainstorm on how to do things more cost effectively, but still in a way that will continue to bring you joy.
I’ll share a few of my own responses to help get you started below. I’d love to hear your insights and ideas. Please share them with the Kula in the comments section at the bottom of this post so we can all find more simple ways to easily bring joy into our lives. We are all in this together and we are so much stronger when we share ideas and inspiration with each other.
A few lines on my doing list:
Gardening - I love the fresh vegetables I grow in my little raised beds and the more flowers in bloom the better. If you buy as many flowers from the nurseries as I like to each year, this can get expensive quickly. With an intent to conserve cash, I’ve decided to start more from seeds this year, which will cost significantly less. Yes, I’ll have to wait longer for them to grow and blossom, but I’ve decided the lesson in patience wouldn’t hurt.
Laughter over dinner with my girlfriends - I’ll bet this one is on many of your lists and a hard one for which to find an equal substitute. However, a Zoom coffee or happy hour every now and then is probably the next best thing. And while texting and a phone call catch up is nice too, receiving a handwritten letter or card from a good friend definitely brings a smile to someone’s day.
A walk in the woods - happily no problem with this one, beyond acting on my intention to do it more often. Think I will add this to my calendar on a regular basis.
Dinner out with my husband Curt at our favorite restaurant - while take-out helps support our local restaurant businesses, I have to admit that it hasn’t brought me the same level of joy. I’m thinking a little more time to set the stage for dinner-in may get me a little closer. Perhaps music, candlelight, cloth napkins and a little extra consideration for the menu would help. Maybe I’ll plan a few courses, beginning with wine and an appetizer, then a beautifully arranged salad before moving on to the main dish. And if the meal is light enough, a decadent dessert to wrap it all up.
A few lines on my other lists:
Tea from Churchill’s Fine Teas in Findlay Market - while I can’t restock at the store in person (which is a delight in and of itself), I am thankful that they do have mail order service so that my cupboard remains stocked in this regard. And of course I have a couple of favorite mugs that get used daily.
All things soft - cozy socks, my well worn blue bathrobe and the sherpa fleece blanket I cuddle up with in early mornings and evenings. I make sure soft cozy things are all around and within easy reach so that I don’t have to go get them and remember to use them.
The tiny picture on my desk of my daughter putting on my lipstick as a child. Do the pictures in your home make you smile when you see them? If not, maybe it’s time to change a few out for ones that do.
Candlelight - think I’ll make a point of burning these more often, particularly on rainy days.
The twinkling in my husband’s eyes when he laughs out loud or views pictures of our grandchildren. We decided to start searching for cartoons to send to our grandchildren to stay more connected and hopefully send them a few smiles.
Let’s keep building our lists and finding simple ways to ease stress and infuse joy into our very own personally crafted new normal lifestyles.