What To Do When Life Feels Like a Circus
Sometimes life feels like a Circus: big, loud, crazy, and colorful, but not in a good way. Whether you’re looking at the big issues in society and politics, or you’re looking closer in at your work or family life, it often takes on a circus-like appearance – roaring lions, prancing ponies, a bunch of clowns, and one or two elephants in the proverbial tent.
If you want to tame the lions, and make the circus to feel more like magic than mania, you need to set the foundation of your show – your daily habits – with practices that bring depth and meaning to your everyday life. When you do this, daily activities become sensuous and nourishing, relationships become more juicy, and your life will be full of wonder and delight. From this place of intention and care, you can fly high, have fun, and shine bright.
In the Center Ring: Attention
Paying attention can taking many forms, but the point of doing it is the same: be awake and present to your life. You may practice this by sitting in silence, moving your body, or by simply observing small details around you at home, in your loved ones’ eyes, or in nature.
One simple way to start: Set a timer for 3 minutes, close your eyes, and listen intently to every sound you hear. You will probably notice sounds that usually fade into the background. You may be surprised at how rich and sensitive your sense of hearing is when you tune in your attention.
In the Ring on the Left: Inquiry
Curious people are lifelong learners. They have interesting conversations and attract interesting people and opportunities. The daily grind can wear us out and dull our curiosity. It can lull us into a state of boredom and make us forget how it feels to learn and discover new things. It’s pretty easy to shift back into inquiry mode and the results can be life-changing.
Here’s an easy way to reignite your curiosity: Read a book. Resist the objections that are saying, “I’m too busy to read a book!” … or whatever is your reason. Reading is the cornerstone of learning, and the most successful people in the world are readers. The best part is this: you don’t have to finish it and you have permission to skim. There’s no law that says you have to digest the thing cover to cover. Read one chapter from a book on a subject you find interesting, and then use that to spark a conversation with your spouse, friend, etc. Go a step further by doing most of the listening in the conversation. Ask your partner questions to learn their perspective on the topic.
In the Ring on the Right: Ritual
Habits are activities we do regularly, with little thought or planning. Routines are a string of habits that create efficiency and order to getting things done. You can bring more meaning into your everyday routines by elevating some of your habits into rituals. Rituals have many of the same characteristics as a habit, but they are done more for their meaning than for speed or efficiency. Repeating a series of actions with attention and reverence is a way to make magic happen in your life.
To make a habit into a ritual: Pick a daily habit and consider the benefit you get from it. When you do that habit each day, do it with a greater awareness of the doing, and also why you do it. Finish your habit with a sense of gratitude for the ability to care for this aspect of yourself and your life, and for the good it brings. That’s it. You’ve just elevated a mindless habit into a ritual – a moment of reverence and meaning.
Ready to Step into the Spotlight
You can bring all of these elements into to your day-to-day. All you have to do is pick something and give it a try. Experimentation and starting small is highly encouraged.
For example, I look at and scrape my tongue every morning, before I brush my teeth. It’s one of the first things I do to start the day right. I take a look at the color, shape, and coating (for me, there’s ALWAYS coating), and compare to recent days. I notice changes and see if I can correlate what I’ve been consuming.
If my looking and scraping shows that my tongue is:
- “Better” today than yesterday, I acknowledge myself for doing things that support healthy digestion and good self-care. I use this moment to set my intention to make today another day of wise choices and healthy living.
- The same, or even a little gunkier than yesterday, I take a moment to give myself some kindness. I acknowledge that my well-being is a lifelong pursuit. I use this moment of attention to allow my imperfection to be my teacher. I reset my intention to keep orienting toward becoming my best self.
Did you see all the elements in there? This simple and quick (this takes seconds to do each day) action is a ritual for me. It has meaning beyond the act itself. It involves curiosity and inquiry, and it is a moment of present moment awareness.
The Show Must Go On!
When life feels like a circus you don’t have to make every habit a ritual. The big idea here is to bring more magic into your life in small, simple ways. You can start right now: pick one mundane habit you do every day, and choose to elevate it to an experience that gives it meaning for you.
Remember, keep it simple. You don’t have to put all three rings into play all the time. Start small. Bring your attention and your curiosity to the way you brush your teeth, make your morning tea, or bring in the mail. Play around with what feels meaningful about these activities. How do they nourish you? What fires up your sense of gratitude? Bring attention and curiosity each time you do the habit, until it becomes a meaningful ritual.
Leave a comment to tell us what you discover!