Too often in this my first year of retirement I’ve found myself counting the days – to the end of the first lockdown, to the start of the next holiday, that kind of thing.
My latest one has been counting to the end of the 14 day quarantine that will follow our three week holiday to France. We return home on September 6th when so by my reckoning will end at about 6am on September 20th.
Bizarre really, I’m looking forward to the end of something that has even started. This mindset of mine strikes me as so wrong as we all have a limited lifespan. We should view each day as precious and not wish it away.
Surely every day should be savoured in its own way whether I’m stuck at home or away on holiday.
The late, greatest Muhammad Ali famously said “Don’t count the days, make the days count”.
I think he’s half-right as making every day count seems like constant hard work, rather than savouring whatever life brings.
I don’t want to be planning all the time or filling every day which seems to me to be the mistake a lot of retired people make, those that end up wondering how they could fit in work by staying busy just to fill the time by doing things like looking after the grandkids.
I really need to change my mindset and have found some useful tips on how I might do this at verywellmind.com
Focus on Details
Sometimes as we go through life, we forget to stop and enjoy the little things; indeed, it’s possible to go through an entire day either stuck in your anxiety about the past or the future, never really seizing the moment and noticing the pleasant things that are happening right now. Notice the little things that can make a day special — the smile of a friend, the kindness of a stranger, the beauty of a sunset. Notice and enjoy what’s around you, moment by moment, and it’s almost impossible to stress.
Focus on Sensations
As you’re experiencing your day, notice and memorise the details — especially the positive details — of what’s going on around you. Create a memory. Notice the sounds you hear, like the sound of children’s laughter in the background. Notice the smells, like the scent of a fresh sea breeze. And how did that wind feel on your face? Noticing these types of sensory details helps you live fully in the moment, and can help evoke pleasant memories when you hear music, smell aromas, or feel sensations you experience on the days that you want to savour.
Focus on the Positive
As humans, we’re naturally wired to notice the negative events in life more than the positive, as these are what we need to keep track of to maintain our safety: if we’re aware of threats around us, we’re more able to launch a defence. However, if we actively work to focus on the positive, we can stress less and enjoy life more from an increasingly optimistic vantage point. To savour the moment, notice what’s going right, and appreciate it. This isn’t the same as pretending you’re happy when you’re not; it’s more about noticing the things that lead to greater happiness and reduced stress.
Feeling gratitude goes along with noticing the positive, and is an excellent way to savour the moment. Notice all the nice things that people do for you (and thank them whenever possible), or simply notice what you enjoy about people when they’re just being themselves (and be sure to tell them that, too). Appreciate what goes right in your day as it happens, and write it down in a gratitude journal at night — it’s a surprisingly effective way to both raise your level of daily gratitude, and build a record of all the things in your life that can make you happy when you’re having a bad day.
Do What You Enjoy
Life is meant to be enjoyed and savoured as it’s lived. If you find yourself dreading Mondays or going through a full day (or week!) without experiencing anything you want to savour, be sure you add activities into your schedule that you enjoy and savour them as you’re doing them. You may feel you don’t have time for fun, but consider how much extra energy and motivation you’ll get from pursuing hobbies and gratifications, and how that energy might help you with your regular responsibilities, and you may find a way to reset your priorities.
Here’s the full article.