20,000 hours of practice makes an expert according to studies, this means we should be experts at life by 2.283 years of age. Don’t you just love that? And when you think about it at around 2 years old toddlers are living very much in the present and are untainted by expectations that the culture we live in promotes.
For many we spend our adult lives achieving, conforming to socially expected milestones and doing ‘stuff’ instead of being. If you are lucky you then realise that life is better when you live in the present and spend the rest of your life practicing being in the present, so yes we are experts by the time we reach around 2, we already live in the present.
Some of the conscious practices I currently do include daily formal and informal mindfulness meditation, daily gratitude group, kindness and physical activities.
Mindfulness practice increases the density of your hippocampus which is associated with memory, think of it like daily training to build your brain muscle which contributes to prevention of alzheimers as we age. By developing a daily practice you will reduce stress in your life, be more likely to make decisions that are aligned with your values and increase your levels of self compassion and compassion towards others.
Gratitude Group my lovely friend Ewa inspires a wonderful group practice via a Whats App group, everyday we each share a list of things we are proud of and things we are grateful for. It doesn’t matter whether things are great in our lives or horrendous we seek to be grateful even in times of high stress, loss and grief. An intimate group made up of people who were already friends and others who have since met. It doesn’t matter where we are in the world we commit to this practice, lists that support and inspire each other everyday, just before we go to sleep!
Kindness Practice – kindness starts with being your own best friend, we all have a tendency to engage a critical voice when it comes to mistakes we make, next time you find yourself being less than kind to yourself imagine you are saying those words out loud to your best friend… If you wouldn’t say it to them then stop! Shift gears, slow down and engage your kinder side, be gentle, supportive and recognise you are human and it gets messy sometimes. Find ways to be kind to others everyday try paying it forward, open the door for others, do something kind for a neighbour or a friend or a stranger. Practicing random acts of kindness will increase your well being and the well being of the recipient – it’s a win – win situation.
Physical Activities build movement into your everyday life, get up and move around at the office, walk to work, cycle, do some thing that requires training. Recently myself and 2 colleagues/friends cycled to a conference in Amsterdam instead of flying. The pure fear (and excitement) of it made me train everyday – jumping around in my living room and cycle whenever I got a chance. Set yourself some challenges that make you smile at the thought of doing them. Next year the conference is in Berlin…. Yes we are currently working out how we can incorporate cycling into the journey!
Return to the state of living in the present where every day brings the unknown and unexpected, be curious about life, open your eyes and your mind to seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. Be a toddler!