Sunday. Summer. Fourth of July weekend. These are words synonymous with "relax" and "take a break." Haven't we been through enough this year already? We all deserve to relax and take a break.
Whether you're hosting a backyard barbecue, packing a picnic for the beach, driving along the coast and eating at your favorite roadside stops, or camping in the mountains, take a moment to enjoy it. Stop, look, and listen. Take in every detail around you.
What do you see? Are surfers catching waves? Are children ferociously digging in the sand? How many different dogs do you see being walked at the beach? Are people biking or riding motorcycles? Do you notice the butterfly fluttering in your garden? Does the baby with only two bottom teeth smile back when you wave hello?
What do you hear? Is it the laughter of children? Do the shrieks and shrills of beachgoers getting splashed drown out the sound of crashing waves? Can you hear the buzzing of a dragonfly at the edge of the lake while you grill the burgers or read a romance novel? Or, do you notice the serenade of crickets above the crackling sound of your campfire while roasting marshmallows?
And, what are you doing? Are you an observer or a participant? Are you taking it all in? How are you enjoying this moment?
While reading at the beach yesterday, I often picked my head up to look around. I had to remind myself how it wasn't too long ago when I had to shelter in place. I had to remind myself that I moved to San Diego for the beach. I've taken for granted that I'm a mere 20-minute drive from breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. And, with a loved one recovering from surgery, I had to remind myself how short life is.
Sitting at Powerhouse Park at Del Mar Beach, l leaned back in my Tommy Bahama beach chair under my matching umbrella and kicked off my sneakers to feel the cool blades of green grass beneath my bare feet. l love this park. It's a grassy area that slopes downward from the street, overlooking the ocean.
There's another area to the left across the train tracks as well. People picnic, throw Frisbees, fly kites, exercise, or sit on one of the many benches at the edge of the park, overlooking the beach below. People often stop to take in the ocean view, take in the spectacular sunsets, and, of course, take selfies.
You can easily access the beach by walking down the sidewalk that separates the park from the building that holds the bathrooms. So, you have the option of enjoying the view while sitting in the grass or sand. Today, I chose not to get sandy or wet, so I stayed up top where I could read my book but still see the ocean whenever I chose to look up.
As I looked around, I watched the waves roll and tumble at the shore. I observed teenagers with their friends coming and going from the water. I watched couples walking their dogs. One couple even had a puppy, who bravely stopped to smell my sneakers. And, just a few feet away from me, I watched a small mole pop out of his home. Over the course of an hour, I watched as he nibbled on the grass that encircled the hole he had dug.
But, the best part was watching how other people reacted when I pointed out the mole. At least four families or couples walking their dogs stopped at the bench in front of me to enjoy the ocean view. Each time, I signaled for them to look for the mole in the hole. They were each surprised and smiled in delight. Ooh's and ahh's were the most common reactions. Adults found it adorable and sweet. Children were both excited and scared. Dogs were baffled.
In the meantime, the mole couldn't care less. He didn't seem afraid at all. He would even pop his head up for long periods of time as if taking in the view himself.
Had I not taken the time to look up every now and then to take in the view or seaside entertainment, I would have missed these small interactions with nature. All too often we are looking down, aren't we? We're too busy on our cell phones to notice the world around us. We're missing out on cues from our own environment.
Being loving, kind, and compassionate with yourself starts with self-awareness and mindfulness. Anything you can do to benefit your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being is not only a sound approach to self-care but also living aloha. You don't have to be Hawaiian or live in Hawaii to live aloha. Living aloha is about living a life of love - for yourself and others. When you are taking care of your mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual needs, you are showing yourself love. In doing so, you are raising good vibrations within you as well as around you. This is how we push positive vibes out into the world and create harmony within ourselves, with others, and with nature.
When you nourish all your senses with positivity, you promote peace and well-being. Sit and read a book. Stop to smell the roses. Pick a flower. Play with a puppy. Wave to a baby. Wiggle your toes in the sand. Listen to the waves rise and fall. Blow bubbles into a breeze. Tell stories to your child while licking ice cream cones. Tickle someone until they laugh.
Life is too short not to stop and enjoy the moment. Life is all about the moments. Don't wait for them; create them.
Live, Love, and Lead with Aloha.
To Say Your Daily Aloha:
Take a deep, cleansing breath. Inhale for three counts and exhale for four, then repeat for at least two more cycles. (You can also try 3-4-5 breathing: Inhale for three counts, hold for four counts, then exhale for five counts.). Then, say Your Daily Aloha Affirmation out loud at least three times. For a more powerful session, look at yourself in the mirror as you say this affirmation. You can even add smiling to help retrain your brain and boost happiness.*
You can also say this affirmation as you face a problem or situation head-on or repeat it throughout the day.
Do whatever makes you feel empowered, my Pineapple!
What is a Daily Affirmation:
A daily affirmation is an easy tool you can incorporate into your life to empower you to greatness. When used regularly, affirmations will help you build courage and confidence, pursue your goals and dreams, and live, love, and lead with aloha! Saying positive statements out loud daily can also improve your well-being by boosting your mood, lifting your spirits, and helping you to cultivate a more positive attitude. Your Daily Aloha Affirmation is the game-changer you need to create more positive thoughts, actions, and outcomes in your life! Use today's affirmation or find another that resonates with you in the "Your Daily Aloha Blog" section of this website.
* Scientists say smiling creates a happiness feedback loop in our brains. When we smile, our facial muscles fire a signal back to the brain, which increases levels of happy hormones, or endorphins.
The loop: When our brain feels happy, we smile; when we smile, our brain feels happier. Thanks to this feedback loop, we can alter our brain's emotional processing pathway to feel happier with a simple smile. Smiling also helps reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and heart rate.
Did you know?: The happiness level that a smile can bring to our brains is estimated as equivalent to that of having 2,000 bars of chocolate.
Source: "What's the Science Behind a Smile?" (BritishCouncil.org)