2019 arrived and brought in the eyes the brightness [almost] tricky of challenge, of someone who wants to do different, better, to embrace a simple life, with more presence, a life with lightness and detachment.
I will not spend any energy in trying to resist this call. The focus on the essentials of life has been cooking inside me. I believe that, just as we have the capacity to create our prisons, overshadowing the capacity to value the simple and authentic side of live, at the same time we have access to the key that frees us from that prison.
Quite some time ago, I grabbed this key and started practicing. If it is easy? Well… as with any change, it caused me some discomfort at first, because the frenzy in which we choose to be immersed may [quite often] hide an escape from the place where we could/should be. After slowing down and starting the process, as I walk down this path, I have been invaded by a growing feeling of lightness.
For example, we used to travel on all our older daughter’s school holidays and long weekends. We lived on the magical Madeira Island, her father worked part of the time abroad. These travels forced us to pack for the four of us – both hold baggage and hand luggage – to unveil new destinations, and more luggage with other clothes for the remaining days we were in Cascais. The time [too much] I invested searching for possible places to know, searching for flights, preferably in an airline that would allow us to earn miles in the frequent flyer programme, search for accommodation, travel insurances, the best way to reach destinations without major inconvenience to our routines, especially for our eldest daughter [due to the various issues related to her diagnosis of global developmental delay], thinking about clothes and shoes for all traveling backwards and forwards… Although part of that time was also time for growth, all in all, it exceeded the limits of what is acceptable in our scale of tolerance. In addition to the demands of my profession, which requires a lot of presence, between coaching sessions, consulting, training, presence on RTP M, texts for the blog and for magazines, conferences, the youngest daughter in unschooling, the eldest between school, dance and therapy sessions, the father, when he was in Portugal, needing to stay in our nest, in tranquillity [mission (im)possible in the profession he chose]… We all needed more retirement and to slow down. To live with presence, in every moment. We postponed the trip [already scheduled] to the only continent we have not visited and left the kangaroos for future plans. We asked ourselves:
“What is the true intention of each trip?”
We kept our basic intention to extend world maps, ours and our daughters’. To know other cultures, especially those that are very different from ours, to learn that we are attracted to what is similar and we grow with what is different… And we added something: to embrace a simpler life, with more presence. Also, because that is what our children expect of us, presence.
We continue to travel, but now much less often, here and now. Another decision was that, whenever possible, they all accompany me on work trips. It has been very rewarding and beautiful.
In addition to all this, we decided to dispose of many material goods, toys, clothes, sell our house. Yes, you read it well. We still have no idea where we are going to live, not even if we are going to stay in Portugal or if we leave again to live in another country [I confess I am very tempted]. We simply trust. We trust our intuition, listen to our heart, we believe that all is right, all is well. You know this is one of those assumptions of Neuro-Linguistic Programming that is a prayer for me.
The most important things in life cannot be bought
The professor of Positive Psychology at Harvard, Tal Ben Sha-har reminds us that the best things in life are not things. That by accumulating goods, medals, money, we are invited to plunge into chaos, into neurotic and unrealistic perfectionism. That it takes peace away from us, it unbalances us, it is reflected in health. Also from this assumption, so that you can bring lightness into your life, through the conscious practices of a Nordic way of life, I created the Hygge Life Retreat which is about to happen.
Slow down and life begins to flow differently. Today, we are able to be just the four of us for hours on end, to feel the energy of a single place, to absorb the information from nature, with all our senses active, to see beyond what our eyes can see. It is so powerful, so special. We can now carry with us much more. This slowing down is also one of the proposals I make in NLP & Generative Parenting. I tell you about it in my book “Mães do Mundo” [“Mothers of the Word”], in the nine transformation steps.
I leave you a few steps so that you can peacefully choose to embrace a simpler life, with more presence. A serene and light life.
How to embrace a simple life with presence
1. Define what is your intention [or intentions] for your life
Intentions are flashlights that keep us on the desired path. You do not have to know exactly what the final destination is, but you should know which way to go, which direction you want to take.
2. Find out what is really important to you
This choice allows you to focus on what is essential and to dispose of everything that is superfluous, it allows you to put aside everything that is creating burden and occupying space in your life. It allows you to embrace what really brings you peace.
I am speaking about material goods, food in excess [or other addictions] and people.
Have you ever thought that you probably do not need more space, you need fewer things? What if instead of having more things done, you have less things to do?
Gather all that brings you light, what makes you feel light, energetic, willing to wake up every morning and be the difference that makes the difference in our world. Surround yourself with those who make you feel good. And remember that everything contains within itself its opposite. When the shadow emerge in the light, you may try to chant this mantra so influential and observe how powerful it can be.
4. Let go
This includes welcoming, integrating and transcending feelings of guilt, compulsive and negative habits, heavy emotions. Allow yourself to let chaos go and make room for light.
5. Contribute to a more sustainable world
This means you can start eating organic food, eating less meat [if you still eat it], less sugar [my resolution for this year] and processed foods. You can buy products from fair trade, from local shops, cycle instead of using the car, walking and investing in hikes that make you closer to nature, use public transport [when they exist and work well], help reforestation, eliminate the consumption of products that imply the devastation of the Amazon and of tropical forests, that exploit slave labour or child labour…
Believe me, every gesture you take, no matter how small they may seem to you, has an implication in the whole. As Rumi told us, I am not a drop in the ocean, I am the whole ocean in a drop.
6. Invest in relationships
What would happen if you exchanged text messages, WhatsApp, Messenger for your actual presence?! If instead of sending a message, you were the messenger who knocked on the door of that loved person to deliver the message by hand? If you swapped emojis for real hugs? Less technology, more human presence. I invite you to try and then share it with me. I will be waiting!
“The best gift we can give others is the quality of our presence.”
7. Practice gratitude and generosity
Focus on what you have and not on what you believe [so often in an absolutely illusory way] you should have. Less is more! It is in giving that we receive. Create rituals, build your gratitude diary or pot. Happiness rarely visits those who complain a lot and live in judgement. Embrace a cause, a volunteer action and go for it! Empathy generates empathy. Love generates love.
If at this point in your life you feel you do not have time to do what is important to you and to your family, then stop doing things that are not important. Change is built in stages and happens when you make the commitment. Being instead of having! That is the status quo I believe that makes sense.