Last Friday was a public holiday in China, it was Labor Day. We had the day off and how happy I was to have the freedom to putter around the house. Looking though book shelves I happened to open up one of my dusty old journals from 2010. In it I found a poem I had hand written and copied from Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”. It was first printed in 1948. It is my inspiration for this post today.
These ten intentions provide practice, purpose and pleasure and act as daily intentions that help to keep us tethered to the present day. They do not propel you into the future with overwhelming thoughts but help to keep you anchored to the here and now. They fully embody the practice of mindfulness.
Do you know how many minutes we have in a day? Every day we are given the gift of 1,440 minutes. Each day the clock is reset and again we receive another 1,440 minutes. Mindfulness allows us to aim to stay present for just one minute at a time and to build on this with regularity throughout our day. Here are the ten intentions.
1. Just for Today, I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life-problem at once. I can do some things for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt I had to keep them up for a lifetime.
2. Just for Today, I will be happy. This assumes that what Abraham Lincoln said is true, that “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Happiness is from within; it is not a matter of externals.
3. Just for Today, I will adjust myself to what Is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business, and my luck as they come, and fit myself to them.
4. Just for Today, I will take care of my body. I will exercise it, care for it, and nourish it, and not abuse it nor neglect it; so that it will be a perfect machine for my will.
5. Just for Today, I will try to strengthen my mind, I will study. I will learn something useful, I will not be a mental loafer all day. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
6. Just for Today, I will exercise my soul. In three ways:
(a) I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out.
(b) I will do at least two things I don’t want to do, as William James suggests just for exercise.
(c) I will not show any one that my feelings are hurt. They may be hurt, but today I will not show it.
7. Just for Today, I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress as becomingly as possible, talk low, act courteously, be liberal with flattery, criticize not one bit nor find fault with anything, and not try to regulate nor improve anybody.
8. Just for Today, I will have a program. I will write down just what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I’ll have it. It will save me from the two pests of hurry and indecision.
9. Just for Today, I will have a quiet half hour, all by myself, and relax. During this half hour, some time, I will think of God, or meditate so as to get a little more perspective of my life.
10. Just for Today, I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love and to believe that those I love, love me.
Being in the moment is what mindfulness is all about and striving to sustain a level of awareness with equanimity requires mental effort. It takes discipline and grit to practice mindfulness everyday. Personally I strive to take mindful breaks though out my day not just when I am sitting still but also when I am with my family, jogging, working, eating and doing daily activities around the house. This poem helped me get through one of my runs today. In my mind I wanted to stop and walk as I felt too hot, too tired, too sweaty and not very motivated. My mind shifted when I remembered the words to this poem. The chant in my head was ‘Just for today I will run 10 kilometers and be in the moment to enjoy my healthy body’. I want to make more of an honest effort to do just one intention or all ten. I challenge you to do the same.
Stretch your body, stretch your mind and stretch your breathe just for today.