How To Be More Amazing
I took two days of CEUs (professional development) this week. The workshops I’m taking right now focus on supporting staff who are dealing with various degrees of compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is the umbrella term for a spectrum of unfortunate conditions many people in caring professions develop. Most simply put, people who work with trauma are at risk of developing similar symptoms, such as hopelessness, depression, exhaustion, lack of meaning, etc. It’s a deep and wide subject, enough to cover 12 hours worth of content.
My instructor was phenomenal. She is the kind of amazing that inspires you to sit back and imagine becoming a more amazing version of yourself. It was easily one of the best post-graduate continuing education courses I’ve taken in the last 5 years.
Halfway through today, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the realization that all of this new awareness, clarity, and planning I could take back to work would be… on me… solely. I reframed that epiphany out loud and said, “It will take a lot of courage to enact on these new amazing ideas and plans.” But what I really meant was, “I’m pretty sure I don’t have it in me to be as amazing as you are.”
At the end of the day, one the last slides said this: Remember to choose to feel a little bit of joy every day. Carve out 20-30 seconds, not 20-30 minutes.
She went on to explain that she does not have time to lay in the grass and stare at the clouds for 30 minutes in the middle of her workday, something that would be very relaxing and joyous. Instead, she chooses to make several 30 second joy-filled moments throughout the day. She went on to describe that when washing her hands in the bathroom, instead of rushing through it, she patiently waits for the water temperature to reach the most comfortable warmth, and washes slowly. Something so ordinary and functional turns into something nourishing and pleasurable.
Essentially, stop and smell the roses.
I was pleased to think of several self-care joyous things I do in a similar manner.
When I am doing day care drop off on a day when I am also running a couple minutes late, instead of doing a hurried drop and run, I actually slow down. I do this because I don’t want to microscopically resent work for edging into something I believe is really important. I decide to savor these few moments of our morning together – I let my daughter help open the door, I make small talk with the teachers so she knows I like them, I give her big hugs and kisses, I wave goodbye to the other kids as well as to her. As a person who generally hates to be late, it’s nice to have found something that is more important to me than being late: being present with my kid during a transition moment. (My “be more amazing” action plan includes not feeling guilty for leaving work early to pick her up early, too, on occasion.)
When I pack a lunch for work, 90% of the time I pack more than I can actually eat during the day. For me, there is nothing more demoralizing at work than being hungry… and being stuck at work, hungry… and knowing your fridge is full of tasty stuff. At the risk of looking like I’m going to a picnic instead of a job, it is a common occurrence for me to walk out the door balancing several containers full of leftovers, salad, fruit, a chocolate bar, and something nice to drink like a San Pellegrino. It makes all the difference in my day. No matter what happens, my belly is happy. (My “be more amazing” action plan is to take an extra chocolate bar for an appreciated co-worker once in a while.)
When I am compelled to scan social media updates on my phone at some point in the work day, I make it a shameless event. I don’t have a data plan anyway, so I have to manually connect to the agency’s wifi to read anything at all. Instead of letting the notifications pour through all day, distracting me from every thing, I turn it on and then off again once or twice, take a 5 minute break and actually pay attention to the content. I actually read personal emails and attend to new instagram images. I treat it like a little present, and I enjoy it rather than let it be a distraction to something else. (My “be more amazing” action plan includes not being tied to any of it at all anyway, not thinking about it ever, but I am human, and it is 2014… so, yeah…)
Smell the freakin’ roses. Let the faucet water get nice and warm. There are lovely, free things all around us right now. Enjoy them. It just might make you, and your day, more amazing.