10 Ways to Enrich your Life Daily with Zing!
When I was a little girl my grandfather gave me an A5 postcard which I pinned to my headboard. I still treasure it today and made 4 copies which now preside over each of my children’s beds. It is a simple poem which struck and continues to strike a deep chord within me. It has shaped my life’s philosophies, my behaviours and my intense ‘cherish today’ attitude. It reads as follows:
One day at a time. This is enough.
Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone.
Do not be troubled about the future for it is yet to come.
Live in the present and make each moment so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.
Such precious advice, isn’t it?
10 Ways to Enrich Your Daily Life
This life philosophy should be so easy to apply, eh? But not so. It takes conscious awareness and deliberate intention to truly embrace the riches today holds. Here are 10 shiny ideas to enrich your daily existence. The list includes ways I’ve found to add extra sparkle and sizzle to my world and I hope they will inspire you to follow suit. Please enjoy, give them a try and I’d love to hear what resonates most with you.
1. Stop, retreat and renew
‘People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills…There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind… So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.’
Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor, master of Stoic philosophy
Respect the necessity of taking a break. Whether it’s family holidays where you relocate to a new location – hopefully leaving domestic drudgery behind you – to spiritual/fitness/spa/painting retreats, to leaving the office and the strip-lit boardroom and opting instead for an outdoor walking meeting, ideas and inspiration flow best when you are away from the maelstrom. Plan ways to enrich your life geographically, with refreshing new spaces and plan in the gift of time to think (or unthink!).
As I write, I’m beneath a blossom tree in my garden instead of at my desk. I fancied a new location to rejuvenate my creative flow and refresh my perspective (visually and mentally). As the proverb goes ‘Change is as good as a rest.’
2. Be kind
‘By simple mathematics giving is key to the world you seek to live in. If I take I alone gain. If I give or share then two at least are enriched.’
The path to rediscovering our best selves invariably starts by rediscovering how to be kind to ourselves. Be kind and thoughtful about what you put in your body, shift your thought patterns to positive, revere sleep, create time and space to allow yourself to breathe – and richness of mind will come. Obviously, one of the most effective ways to increase kindness levels holistically in your world is to reach out and proactively be kind to others.
Kindness has been proven to slow aging, cure depression, improve relationships, lower the risk of heart disease and have a raft of other benefits, not least of which is the fact that it’s deliciously contagious, so it spreads goodness and happiness like wildfire. The act of being kind alleviates stress and moves you out of self-centred anxiety and busyness into a positive state of giving. Kindness wafts grace and gratitude inwards and outwards, spiritually and societally. Embrace ‘random acts of kindness’ each day – surprise someone with unexpected kindness for which you expect no reward – and read the empirical science of Dr David Hamilton, Why Kindness is Good for You, where he states “We live in an interconnected world where everything we do affects other things. This is encouraging because it means that when you are kind, you are usually affecting more than the person right in front of you. …An act of kindness is like a pebble dropped.”
‘Most people are mirrors, reflecting the moods and emotions of the times; few are windows, bringing light to bear on the dark corners where troubles fester. The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.’
We live in a unique era, the information age, where globalisation means that thanks to technology-driven connectivity knowledge has never been so accessible – indeed, new knowledge never been generated so rapidly. Knowledge sharing increases our collective value, as we disperse new knowledge upwards and outwards sparking new ideas. We have a plethora of sharing and learning tools available to us: YouTube, podcasts, community sharing networks, books, blogs, e-learning programmes, online universities and so on. It’s possible to expand your mind limitlessly in whichever direction you choose. Lessons are everywhere, whether they’re presented as such or not, and there has never been such a wealth of ‘spiritual’ self-help material.
So take time to consider how you learn, what you want to learn and how you can practice what you want to grow. I also recommend you find a mentor. In Thomas Friedman’s bestseller Thank You For Being Late he states ‘… two experiences stood out from the poll of more than one million American workers, students, educators and employers: successful students had one or more teachers who were mentors and took a real interest in their aspirations, and they had an internship related to what they were learning in school.’ His research found that the most engaged employees invariably ascribed their workplace success to having had a professor or professors who cared about them as an individual or who supported their goals and aspirations. Having internships in which they were able to apply what they were learning was equally important. These workers, he found, ‘were twice as likely to be engaged with their work and thriving in their overall wellbeing.’ So, take heed and organise yourself to learn what you believe will be most beneficial to you at this moment in your life, how to learn it and who from.
’Seek first to understand, then to be understood.’
Learn the power of empathic listening and avoid the tendency far too many people have of listening with the intent to reply rather than the intent to understand. Shift into deep, attentive listening and always allow others to finish communicating their message. Don’t pre-empt what they have to say, don’t interrupt, don’t respond with your own story or with an assumption; listen hard then reflect back what you’ve heard, and ask questions if you need clarification. It’s such a simple, yet effective way to improve communication in any context, from negotiations, to leadership, to teenager management, to marriage. Practise this consciously and watch your relationships flourish.
5. Your work, your passion
‘This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realise it is play.’
Richard Branson has always maintained that there should be no separation between work and play as it’s all living. I agree wholeheartedly, which is why I proudly and happily refer to my CV as a chronology of passions explored. If I’m not personally inspired by the mission I’m working on, I struggle to maintain the energy to successfully complete it. I’m not naïve and respect that in work for every single one of us there will invariably be tasks to fulfil which don’t rock our worlds, but if you can reframe those tasks as rungs on a ladder towards that larger goal, and chunk them down into bitesize, achievable tasks, you will get them done. I’m a macro thinker and admit that intricate details bore me, so I delegate this where I can, respecting the synergised impact on productivity when the micro thinking is delivered complementarily by someone else. It means I spend the majority of my working life in a zone of energised, effective invigoration.
Have you indulged your passions in your life? Do you truly connect with the work that you do? Once you’re clear about your fundamental higher purpose, your life’s ‘Why’ swing into action and honour it. Work at and with your passion; make your work play. Once you achieve this you will find total congruence and fulfilment, and inner peace, with no more desperate striving for balance as your work and your life will become one beautiful continuous blend of play, of living. Alan Watts, British philosopher and author teaches us ‘Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.’ Touché!
‘Each person leaves a legacy – a single, small piece of herself, which makes richer each individual life and the collective life of humanity as a whole.’
John Nichols, The Nirvana Blues
I almost fainted recently in Stockholm. Alone on a business trip, fit, healthy, walking back to my hotel after a light supper, I suddenly felt the cobblestones beneath me rise up and sensed I was about to pass out. I fell into the closest doorway, an old world, low beamed café where I collapsed into a chair by the door. I didn’t lose consciousness and goodness knows what caused that funny turn, but the compassion of the restauranteur was heaven sent. A total stranger, an Afghan working in Sweden to fund his family back home, lonely and disappointed by life’s struggles, yet he nurtured me through my shaky vulnerability like a best friend, a close relative, a soulmate. It was human nature flourishing, our innate predisposition to care for others, he didn’t pause for one moment before rescuing me with kindness and lemonade and I’ll be grateful for his tenderness forever.
Now here’s a plea from me to you if you’re a parent. If you don’t already, please seize the gift of parenting for the blessing that it is and dismiss the mindset that childcare is a chore. Savour it, as it will be gone in the blink of an eye. In the words of Cinderella in the latest Disney version of the story ‘Have patience, have courage and be kind.’ This is exactly what nurturing young souls requires. You are the adult and it’s within your gift to perform the parenting role with steadiness, consistency and love. It is a privilege to have children seeking your help and guidance, and one not to be taken lightly.
Turn your phone off, cancel the coffee morning – be present. Get down on the floor and play with them, listen to why they’re upset, tame your own anger, place them above the superfluous aspects of our busy, bustling worlds. Relish teaching and inspiring your little ones day by day, preparing them to launch themselves confidently into the world as young adults, and be proud in the knowledge that you gave your best and enjoyed every inch of the shared journey.
Caring doesn’t stop at the school gate of course. Through teens and onwards we’ll be their guides. The voices we hear in our heads as adults are those of our parents, chastening, advising, reminding, teaching. The wisdom you impart at every stage will linger. Caring of course also means looking after our own parents as the generational cadences shift. Whether caring upwards or downwards, it takes utter selflessness and really is the substance of what matters most in life.
7. Inspiring relationships
‘The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.’
The effect of a meeting of two personalities is akin to a chemical reaction that transforms each of you forever, and therefore the impact that others can have in shaping your average self is vast. Never lose sight of this. Seek out those who inspire you, and drive you forward and upward. Invigorate yourself with those who make you laugh, who love you unconditionally and who you can be your raw, beautiful, unaffected self with.
I am blessed to have a rich array of loyal friends and family to lean on, learn from and treasure. One friend will inspire me to exercise differently, another to experiment with no wine, only pure tequila, another with bone broth for gut microbiome health, another for uncontrollable laughter and so on. And beyond friends, colleagues who enlighten me with their fresh perspectives help broaden my horizons daily. We all have dependable beings in our worlds who help us thrive and it’s important to identify who those faithful ones are, where they are and what they’re doing for you to enable you to live your best life.
‘Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.’
Mina Murray, Dracula
In my book Flourish: Redefine Success and create more Time, Energy, Impact and Happiness I devote a full section to journaling as a spiritual practice in the chapter on Self-awareness (step 2 in my 6 step ESCAPE method to rediscover your best self your way).
If you haven’t already started your journaling ritual – whether long form, short form, typed, hand-scrawled, at a desk or on the train – do explore the impact of reflecting on each day of your life with a moment’s journaling.
In Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (which I gifted to my entire agency leadership team to stem the ‘endless overwhelm and non-essential drowning’) he tells us how he became so much more personally efficient, effective, and better able to focus on the essential stuff by journaling daily. He’s inspired a whole generation of worker bees to get scribing. So if the spiritual, creative side of writing fills you with horror, or indeed apathy, perhaps try looking at this practice through the lens of productivity at work, as a tool to cleanse your mind, refocus your attention and strategise better. Whichever approach you find most appealing, please give it a go, as this is low-effort, high-yield enrichment. As a pursuit leading to personal growth its potential is limitless.
9. Feed your soul
‘You will enrich your life immeasurably if you approach it with a sense of wonder and discovery, and always challenge yourself to try new things.’
Capture the moments that matter to you in ways that enrich your soul, whether through canvas portrait photography or diary entries that bring to mind everything that happened that day, or through reflective meditation and stillness – whatever enlivens you and preserves your treasured moments. I was so impassioned by preserving memories I created a business out of helping others ‘capture treasured memories in art and rhyme’: it was a total joy to spread the magic of giving in this way for a decade, and I still feel truly blessed by my experience of creating and leading The Bespoke Gift Company experience. What is it that makes time stand still for you? When do you feel at your most lucid and in the moment, and able to capture every sensation? How can you do more of that?
10. Make your home a haven
‘Home is where the heart is.’
I find creative joy in tending to my home and garden, and I take pride in making every room a sensual delight for me and anyone who joins me. It doesn’t have to be lavish interior design; I have renovated numerous homes now on super-tight budgets, but always with a polished finish that makes my heart sing. From my daughter’s Flower Fairy bedroom, with all the pretty finishing touches that I gathered for it, to my Louis XVI-inspired boudoir with its white organza, French chateau furniture and baroque wallpaper, to my Palladian-style orangery, designed to feel as though it’s floating in the middle of a park, surrounded by lawn and greenery, light bursting in from every angle, I love it.
For fun – take a little tour around a pocket of my home @english_country_masion – truly my sanctuary and a home I share out with other business for retreats, youtubers, photoshoots, documentaries, music videos and more. This is a home to be shared with more than the 5 kids & 1 dalmatian who already enjoy it permanently with me…!
My home is definitely my haven and I feel a thrill every time I arrive home or sit in any room or part of the garden. I simply feel at peace; I feel totally at home. If we remind ourselves that we have one life, and it is not a rehearsal, then why on earth wouldn’t we create the most personally pleasing living space we could. Does arriving home fill you with joy? Is your bedroom an oasis of calm? Is the kitchen the warm heart of the house, filled with laughter and good company? Is the house filled with the people you love best? Your home is truly where your heart is, so personalise it to bring you maximum joy.
I hope these 10 tips bring you ideas and inspiration to flourish your way through every day. You may also enjoy this uplifting interview with one of my charming, super-energising clients Charlotte Dahl We certainly had fun making the content for you!