After the festivities and sparkle of December, easing into January can feel challenging.
The nights are still dark, the weather unpredictable, and we can often feel like we are endlessly ‘waiting’ for the significant milestones of the year that we fill our new diaries with – summer holidays, weekends away, birthday parties and festivals when the days will become lighter and brighter.
But if we spend all of our time waiting for the big shiny moments of life, we can miss out on noticing the small moments of joy that surround us every single day. We often rush through our days at such a pace, always in a hurry to get from one moment to the next – to work, finish work, pick the kids up, cook dinner, and get to bed on time. One thing after another, on autopilot and so often lost in thought – wrapped up in past worries and future plans that we miss noticing and connecting with our present-day moments of magic.
So this January, why not set aside a little time to be fully present and aware in your everyday life? To begin, try tuning into simple moments of understated beauty in our seemingly insignificant daily routines – the taste of your first hot drink in the morning, the warmth of a hug from a child or family member, or the way the water cascades over your body during a hot evening shower after a long day.
The magic comes in paying attention.
Taking a regular local walk helps us slow down and appreciate the beauty of the natural world. Even in the darker days of winter, nature is still quietly thriving. Choose a garden, park or river bank and find a spot to sit and observe where you won’t be disturbed. Become aware of what you can see – the first shoots of the snowdrops, the way the clouds move in the winter breeze, and the shapes and shadows from the bare branches of the sleeping trees. Be aware of how the surface underneath you feels – soft grass, a cool rock covered in ancient lichen or a manufactured wooden bench. Notice what you can hear – the chatter of birds, the gentle patter of rain, the rush of the overflowing river or perhaps the absence of any noise compared to the usual song of your life.
If you feel inclined, make a record of what you see – write notes in a journal, draw or paint what you observe or use a film camera to capture the details. Avoid using your phone to allow yourself to stay distraction-free and as in the moment as possible. Notice how you feel before and after.
Try returning to your spot in nature once a month or even once a week. This will allow you to observe subtle changes as the seasons progress throughout the year. Notice how the wildlife and birdsong change in summer, when the first buds of spring appear and when the leaves begin to change as autumn approaches.
By allowing yourself to slow down and savour these quiet moments, you will likely feel calmer, more relaxed and more mindful of life’s simple pleasures. With practice, you will soon find yourself naturally tuning into small moments of everyday joy rather than waiting for those significant shiny milestones of life.