It’s the start of the workweek. Another ordinary workweek. This likely includes the same old routine, a mix of getting ready, wrangling a kid or two, getting stuck in traffic, getting stuck in meetings, responding to never-ending email, running errands, making dinner, doing bedtime. And doing it all over again.
In short, there’s a lot of rushing from one place to the next, from one task to another. And it all feels all-too familiar.
It’s natural to get bored with the seemingly mundane. It’s natural to dismiss your days as dull and uninteresting. Similar days will blend into each other, and before you know it, the week is up.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
When Shonda Moralis’s son was 4 years old, he asked her how babies in the womb received nourishment. After Moralis did her best to give an age-appropriate answer, her son shared his summary: “So let me get this straight. You ate food, it went into your belly, then into my belly button through your extension cord?”
Moralis replied, “Extension cord. Exactly, and there has been an invisible extension cord connecting our hearts ever since.”
Moralis, MSW, LCSW, a psychotherapist and coach, shares this sweet story in her new book Breathe, Empower, Achieve: 5-Minute Mindfulness for Women Who Do It All. In it, she encourages readers to reconnect to our childhood sense of awe, curiosity, and wonder. Which is similar, she writes, to the idea of “beginner’s mind” from Zen Buddhism.
Moralis suggests exploring this idea by picking one activity, either at work or at home. She writes, “Imagine that you have never encountered this situation before. What do you notice? What is most prevalent? How does this impact or shift the moment for you?”
We can apply beginner’s mind to all kinds of activities, according to Moralis—from driving to emailing to (even) being at a meeting.
“When we bring beginner’s mind to everyday mundane or rote tasks, we are not only granted a fresh perspective; we will consequently reach our goals with less resistance or frustration.”
When you apply beginner’s mind to an email, you can marvel at the technology, at your ability to connect with someone who’s three thousand miles away or in another country. When you apply beginner’s mind to your morning, you can marvel at the sunrise and at your child’s surprising questions. You can marvel at the convenience of your toaster oven, the delicious flavor of your fresh bagel, and the aroma of your hot coffee—even as you’re running out the door (and running back in, because let’s be honest, you probably forgot something).
Our mindset determines our mood and our behavior. When we open our eyes (and tune into our other senses), when we take less for granted, we enjoy brighter, happier, less stressful days. We also feel alive. Energized. Invigorated. Empowered. Maybe we’re even kinder and more patient.
Moralis includes a beautiful quote from Maya Angelou, which we can regularly remind ourselves of (and maybe even recite every morning): “This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.”
And, of course, you haven’t.