30 Things I’ve learnt – Part XX

Today I introduce you to 5 words that will help you get through anything.

Smile, breathe, and go slowly.

So says Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the most revered Zen Buddhists.

Let’s break it down (in a non-rapper sense).

Smile: I’m sure the simple act of smiling makes you feel a lot more happy in the moment. If not, it should at least give you the satisfaction of seeing the bemused, ‘what’s he smiling about’, look on everyone else’s faces. Especially if you do it when you don’t feel like smiling. You know, if you’re having a shitty day, at funerals, etc.

Breathe: Fairly obvious, this one. YOU’D BE DEAD OTHERWISE. But remembering to breathe, especially when in times of pain, exasperation or agitation, is essential. Not only physiologically, by slowing the heart rate and therefore helping to keep calm, but also giving you something more basic, elemental, to focus on. Remembering to get through just this breath is the key to getting through whatever else you may be experiencing. And like a wonderfully perfect mathematical proof, if you can get through just this breath, and the next, then you can keep on getting through whatever comes next.

Go slowly: I like this one. Have you ever gone extra slowly round the supermarket? You should. Pick a nice, random, relaxing song and sing it to yourself, or out loud for extra strange looks, and wander round the supermarket as if you have all day. You will marvel at the crazed loons that rush around as if picking up a packet of bacon in the next 15 seconds will avert a global disaster. Going slowly is often the best way of doing things. You take more notice when you do things slowly. You appreciate things more. Walking round the supermarket, chewing your food, even driving to work can be improved by taking your time. Don’t get sucked in to rushing.

So remember, smile, breathe and go slowly in life, at the supermarket, possibly even at funerals. It helps.

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2 responses to “30 Things I’ve learnt – Part XX

  1. Apparently it’s true. Smiling does make us happier.
    It’s a (slight) virtuous circle. We smile when we’re happy, but smiling actually makes us happier too. [citation needed]

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