“A life of ease is a difficult pursuit.” – William Cowper
I love the irony of Cowper’s quote, and I’d like to adapt it to my own variation. A life of ease is a difficult pursuit, but a worthy one.
Ease: To free from anxiety or care; to mitigate, lighten or lessen; freedom from labor or pain; freedom from concern or anxiety; tranquil; comfortable; a quiet state of mind.
If you’ve been following my blog at all, you know that my word for 2019 was ease. My intention was to live with more ease and to feel ease in my day to day life.
The funny thing about ease is that it is not the same thing as easy. It’s a fine nuance, but one that deserves attention. Living with ease requires an intentionality, a simplicity, and a presence that can be hard to come by in this day and age.
As I pursued ease last year, I realized that I was constantly striving, always doing, defaulting to action – feeling like the answer to living with ease was a result of my own work and actions. And while I do believe there is an element of action required – action to simplify, actions that enable us to be present, actions that reflect our intentionality – I also realized that living with ease was a lot more about being than doing.
My pursuit of ease in 2020 is reflective of what I learned last year, but also looks much different.
As with many great gifts in life, most often we find them once we stop looking for them. The deep joy that appears unexpectedly in the middle of a mundane day. The sense of peace that comes to light on a morning walk or doing the dishes at night. The warmth of connection that is inspired by a thought of gratitude for a friend.
Ease is the same. As soon as I stopped striving for ease, it started to show up in the most unexpected ways. Which has been delightfully surprising because I would not characterize the start of this year as one that is conducive to ease.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, I want to spend this year celebrating the ways optimism is interwoven in our lives on a day to day basis, and celebrate optimism as it is versus creating a to-do list for being more optimistic.
So here is how I am celebrating the ways in which ease shows up in my life. I suspect that many of these are true for you too, and hope you will take a moment to celebrate the ways in which optimism is ease and the ways in which optimism and ease are showing up for you.
- Choices based on joy. I don’t know if there was a turning point in this occurring, or if the turning point was my recognition of it, but I’ve started to appreciate the many choices that I am making that are stemming from joy. In deciding how to start my morning, I am no longer defaulting to a set routine (and I do LOVE my morning routines!) but I start by asking myself “what will serve you best right now, what will bring you joy?” It has not dramatically changed my routines, but I’m connecting more with myself and feeling a sense of ease in my choices.
- From should to want. I am intentional about my language and mindful about how I use it, so I spent a lot of time trying to shift myself out of using the word should. I feel like should is the antithesis of ease. And yet I use the word should a lot. My mental dialogue includes a lot of me beating myself up over the things I should do. And yet that work around my language is starting to pay off, and I see myself saying more things like “I want to…” instead of “I should.” Sometimes it is very cognizant; I deliberately change my phrase from I should to I want, and sometimes it is showing up naturally. Either way, the language of “I want…” has created so much more ease in how I approach what I’m about to do.
- Creating space. Ease is hard to come by when we are crazy busy and sprinting from one thing to the next. And I know that the days when I have back to back meetings from 8am until 8pm with barely any time for lunch or a breath are not the most easeful. But the days when I have a little bit of space are days in which I’m feeling more ease. So I’m learning to create space. Sometimes the space looks like 15 minutes to myself between meetings, and sometimes it is an afternoon of time set aside for creative work, but it never fails – when I have space in my day, no matter how small, my day has more ease.
Click to tweet: Ease is hard to come by when we are crazy busy and sprinting from one thing to the next… But the days when I have a little bit of space are days in which I’m feeling more ease. So I’m learning to create space.
- Not overthinking. Often, the thing that can get in the way of our ease more than anything else is ourselves. Tell me if this sounds familiar – you have a conversation that you walk away from feeling not quite right about. Later that night, you can’t fall asleep because you’re replaying it over in your head until finally, you formulate the perfect response – and maybe a few ways that you could bring the conversation up again so that you could use it. We all have moments like this, where we send ourselves into a spiral of overthinking things that really aren’t all that complicated, and they get in the way of our experiencing ease. A mindset shift like this takes conscious effort, and often it’s easier with someone else in your corner. My team and I have been working together to stop overthinking e-mails, assignments, and the million other things that we’re tempted to get stuck on each week – and to call each other out when we see ourselves falling into that pattern.
How are you experiencing – or working toward – ease these days? I’d love to hear and celebrate your ease and optimism! Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or head over to Facebook or Instagram, and send me a note there.
With optimism, ease, and love,