Join me on a Daily Treasure Hunt!
Embrace Mindfulness to Maximize Your Year
This holiday season, my family traded the hustle and bustle of the big city for the tranquility of the mountains. Idaho, our frequent holiday destination, beckoned us with its crisp mountain air and snowy adventure. However, this year, Mother Nature threw us a curveball - a shortage of snow. The mountains that usually sported a soft white cloak were barren and brown. Round-the-clock snowmaking came to the rescue, ensuring that my boys had some runs to enjoy, but I opted out of the less-than-ideal ski conditions.
Freed from the daily pressure of skiing, my days stretched out before me, full of possibility! I happily embraced the change of pace, swapping my ski boots for hiking shoes, replacing chilly chairlift rides with cozy blankets, and trading après-ski activities for books that I had long neglected. While my boys carved tracks in the machine-made snow, I carved out time for reflection. After a hectic 2023- a blur of travel, speaking engagements, and restaurant openings - this leisurely pace was just what the doctor ordered. It turns out that a ski holiday without the skiing can be incredibly fulfilling!
Back in LA, with the holiday respite now a memory, I'm greeting the new year with both excitement and a hint of apprehension. To bring a sense of that holiday calm into my daily routine in 2024, I've turned to a daily meditation practice, specifically the one featured in Sam Harris's Waking Up app. Its 10-minute meditations provide a welcome pause in my chock-a-block schedule, with Sam's voice serving as a calming and comforting guide. Beyond meditations, Sam also shares philosophical musings on the app, such as his poignant piece, The Last Time.
In The Last Time, Sam delves into the notion that any moment could unexpectedly be our last. Both the sweetest life moments, like tucking a child into bed, and the more challenging ones - such as being woken up in the middle of the night - have a finite number of occurrences. Once you accept this idea, it fundamentally changes your perspective, prompting a deeper appreciation for every experience, big or small. This realization can shift your mindset from irritation to gratitude, helping you find value and meaning in the everyday.
Sam shares an example about skiing that resonates with me: 'I used to love to ski and haven't skied in well over a decade. Will I ever ski again? I have no idea.' This musing is fitting and timely. Last winter, when I unbuckled my ski boots for the last time, I had no inkling they'd be sitting idle this season. I'm hopeful I haven’t taken my final ski run, but I’m reminded to appreciate every moment because I never know what life, or Mother Nature, might bring.
Reflecting further, I think of the countless hours I used to spend in elementary school carpool lines often feeling frustrated by parents who didn't abide by the carpool rules. Little did I know that the arrival of Covid would abruptly end this routine. In March 2020, I picked up my son from grade school, not realizing it would be the last time. By the time he returned to in-person learning, more than a year later, he was at an entirely new school, taking the bus and navigating the complexities of his teenage years. Had I considered that every carpool might be my last, I would have more fully appreciated those precious pickups, and allowed the daily annoyances to fade away.
One book that captivated me over the holiday was Matthew Dicks's Storyworthy. Dicks, drawing on his expertise as a storyteller, offers a unique take on mindfulness. He believes that our daily lives are teeming with hidden stories, just waiting to be discovered - the trick lies in sharpening our awareness to uncover them. He recommends a simple yet profound daily exercise called Homework for Life which involves setting aside a few minutes each night to jot down the day's memorable moments. These entries can be used as the foundation for more detailed stories or simply serve as a personal journal. Either way, the practice serves as a way to keep our eyes open to the richness of everyday life.
I know I’m not alone in feeling that life is moving too fast and this type of regular reflection might just be the key to easing life's ever accelerating pace. In Los Angeles, without the distinct change of seasons, the passage of time is exacerbated and marked mostly by my boys’ regular growth spurts and the need for longer pants (my 16-year-old now towers at 6’5”!). To pump the brakes on this runaway time train, I've started my own reflective practice I’m calling the Daily Treasure Hunt. Its aim is to uncover the meaningful, not just monumental, occurrences of daily life. This new ritual has allowed me to capture precious interactions with friends, small personal wins, and witty remarks from my boys — moments that could have easily slipped by unnoticed.
Starting your own Daily Treasure Hunt is simple. Grab a notebook, Google spreadsheet or Excel file and start writing. Create two columns—one for the date and another for your daily notes. It doesn't need to be elaborate; just a sentence or two to capture the memory. If inspiration strikes while you're away from your computer, jot down a few words in the Notes app on your phone and then transfer them at a later time. Just don’t let too many days pass without an entry!
As we navigate 2024, I invite you to pay attention, savor each moment, and connect with your life. Mindfulness- in whatever form works for you - is the key to appreciating the present, guarding you from distraction and immersing yourself in each experience. Please join me in treasuring and documenting each moment, big and small, and doing our best to slow down time, just a little.
PS: Catch my next appearance on Shark Tank Friday January 12th 8/7c!