Zoe McDowell is the mother of three young children, is the creator of The Happy Hog Blog and owns Madsurf, which is a casual wear company promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Releasing Your “Inner Smile”
Mindfulness is something that I had always thought was for other "mindful types”. You know, those people in life who never seem flustered, who always appear to be in control of their day, who naturally give out that zen vibe. With 3 young children, a house to run, a business to keep afloat and a job to honour, I couldn’t have been living a more mindless life if I had tried. I was more akin to a coiled spring with a headspace resembling a busy motorway full of traffic jams, beeping horns and irate drivers. All of my senses seemed confused and exhausted by trying to deal with the pressure of juggling children, work, and finances. When the juggling fatigue sets in, life loses its sparkle, so I thought I should really find out more about this whole mindfulness thing, to see if I too, could become one of those zen-like types.
Mindfulness, in its simplest form, is a way of paying attention to and seeing clearly whatever is happening in our lives. It’s about being in the present and absorbing everything in that moment. Not having regrets about the past or wondering what the future holds, giving our full attention to the present and accepting it for what it is. In other words, just being. It’s a place of acceptance and gratitude which, in turn, nurtures fulfilment and happiness. As Audrey Hepburn once said, “The most important thing is to enjoy your life, to be happy. It’s all that matters”. I completely agree.
So I am embarking on a venture this year called “The Happy Hog”, which is a blogspace to talk about mindfulness, happiness and releasing your inner smile. I have devised some happy rules to welcome the New Year in with:
1. Live cleanly – eat natural food and be active. For this rule, chocolate is classified as a natural substance
2. Switch off – find a moment to be still every day - this one’s a challenge for me!
3. Laugh (a lot) – it’s the best stress-reliever I know
4. Plan realistically - you can only fit so much into any week so plan it, stick with it and reward yourself when you’ve made it
5. Be grateful – keep a gratitude journal - remember it could ALWAYS be worse
6. Seek out a hug each day - do not underestimate the power of a hug
7. Give-back – find your own way to support others less fortunate in life - it’s life’s therapy
8. Be true to yourself – “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” ― Oscar Wilde
9. Look for the positive in every situation – the “glass half-full” approach is medicine for the mind
10. Finally, live in the moment. No regrets about the past. No worries for the future. If your mind wanders and you’re having a bad day, then so be it. Life isn’t a happiness competition…..but it’s definitely a good starting place!
And for me? Yes, I will still moan, I will still melt, I will still want to run to the hills on a bad day. My ability to be that “Zen” mother may well still escape me but I will definitely be trying out the mindful approach to life because I believe it’s a healthy and positive outlook to take. I am definitely counting on the happy hugs outweighing everything else this year to make for a mindfully mad, fab and fun 2017.
By Zoe McDowell, The Happy Hog blog at www.thehappyhogdiary.com and on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram @thehappyhog123