BY LAURA HARLEY
It is alarmingly easy to race through our lives and miss the meaning and joy that are potentially in each moment.
Being with my two-year-old every day reminds me of this. If I choose to be in a “need to get things done” mode, I can stress both of us out and miss the peace and joy that are there when I slow down and connect with him. In his world, there are no “to do” lists, just endless things to learn and explore, and lots of love to give and receive. What a beautiful approach to life! When I connect with my son, each moment is meaningful.
So, how can we cultivate meaningful moments in our lives?
One way is to bring beauty into our space to remind us to slow down and be mindful.
For example, having fresh flowers (even just one simple flower!) on our kitchen table helps me remember to slow down and see the beauty in the small things in life. As my son and I eat a meal, we often look at one flower at a time, noticing the colors, the smell, and the texture of the petals. And when I’m alone in the kitchen, perhaps rushing to do the dishes and get dinner on the table, seeing the flowers reminds me that beautiful things take time to grow and that things unfold and blossom in time. This helps me to get out of a “rushing” mode and into an appreciative and peaceful mode. I’ve also been experimenting with bringing beautiful objects into our family prayer time to help my son connect more meaningfully with prayer. I bought a simple and inexpensive tray and put prayer beads, a flameless candle, and a small family photo album on it.
Each evening when we pray as a family, my son switches the candle on (he gets really excited to do it!). As the light flickers, it brings beauty into the room and signals that something special is about to happen. Next we gently touch the prayer beads and prepare to be reverent. The gentle touch helps my son settle down and focus. Next we look through our family album (which also includes a picture to represent the human family—since we want to pray for all people, not just our relatives). This reminds him that we can pray in thanksgiving of and ask for assistance for the people in our lives.
Since we started this practice, my son seems to enjoy prayer time more. These simple objects help him to understand the meaning of prayer. (You may be asking yourself, are there times when he is rambunctious and doesn’t want to settle down and pray? And the answer is, yes, absolutely! But overall, this practice seems to help, and I know that in time he will develop the ability to focus more. For now, making prayer a meaningful and joyful experience, even for a moment a day, is my goal.)
We can all bring beauty into our environments to help us understand things more deeply, remember important concepts, and feel more peaceful.
What do you want to bring into your space?
Where do you need more beauty in your life?
Which daily moments do you long to make more meaningful?
Originally published on Laura Harley’s blog, which has many more tips for adding meaning to everyday life.