My Golden Rules
by SARAH MATHEWS
Enliven's contributing editor is passionate about making life a little lighter; more beautiful and meaningful for herself and others. She does not - contrary to popular belief - live in a coffee shop. Here, she opens up about the rules she lives by.
1 / Explore as often as you can.
Find people and places that inspire you - artists, chefs or even people outside the realm of your usual interests. Travel because you need to, because disrupting the ordinary keeps you curious and on your toes and there’s something about discovery, that sense of wonder that stays with you and feeds you in a way that every day routines never could.
2 / Find 10 minutes every day to meditate.
My friend’s ex-boyfriend used to joke with her during arguments saying: ‘your head is such a dangerous neighbourhood, rather stay out of it’. While he’s a witty guy, I find that things only get more convoluted and crazy if you do! I got into meditating a few years back when Janie introduced me to Headspace, a mindfulness app that the New York Times described as ‘doing for meditation what Jamie Oliver did for food’ and for me, that was a relatable enough hook. While I wasn’t really sure what to expect at first, it was really easy and beautifully designed and before I knew it, I was tracking my progress and noticing how it fundamentally changed the way I responded to everything around me. If you’re following Janie’s recommended Daily Practices For Well-Being, try setting your alarm a little earlier to help you ease into your day. Soon you’ll find yourself waking up before it goes off, you may even look forward to slower, more indulgent mornings and not be able to do it any other way… that’s at least what happened to me when I challenged myself to undertaking all of Janie’s daily practices for 30 consecutive days.
3 / Don’t ever let anybody steal your groove.
Like death and taxes people will always have their opinions and trust me they mean well when they share them with you (you’re probably guilty of doing that too), but what they don’t share is your comfort-threshold with change or your current circumstances... please don’t let that throw you or stop you from trying new things. Every opportunity I’ve had has often started off feeling like a scary, uncertain place. Be bold, if you can believe in Santa for nine years you can believe in yourself right now in this minute.
4 / Always find the light.
My good-vibes-only optimism is something I shared with my gran. At the age of 95, she was still the upright epitome of a lady with a healthy dose of sass. She showed me what it meant to be kind - to keep your footprint on everyone you encounter light, not expecting anything in return. That’s not to say you have to walk around with a creepy grin on your face or deny yourself having a bad day, it’s just learning to not get stuck or attached to those feelings (people or things) that will bring you down and genuinely not wanting to be the reason someone else feels the same way.
5 / Move. Sweat. Feel your body set itself on fire.
When I was 17, I had to give up a very demanding ballet career because my hips and knees were no longer interested. For years, I’ll admit, I banked on that muscle memory always being there and exercise would be this thing I called upon to work out guilt when I indulged at Christmas dinner. Most times the pain I still felt from those lingering injuries would consume me and my frustration quickly replaced the guilt. It took me witnessing my mom go through a very debilitating illness to fully appreciate how fortunate we are and what our bodies really do for us every day. So I set out to find what worked for me, studios with cool instructors and the best playlists ever (whoever thought of incorporating a DJ and strobe lights when you’re discovering your physical limits was a solid genius!). I completely reframed the experience, I understood what motivated me and I ditched the horrible self-chatter for a really intentional space, time to be kind to my mind and body – not to compete but rather, go inwards. I honestly can’t do without my daily trips to YogaLife and occasional blitz burning sessions at Switch Playground. I also can’t remember the last time I felt pain and that in itself is amazing.
6 / Fear is the revolving door between you and freedom.
... It's going to be OK. Whenever I have felt the presence of fear the other side of that has opened me up to so many freeing possibilities beyond anything I ever imagined. There will be many revolving doors and there will be times when you sit and watch them spin, but where’s the fun in that? Get in, push through… what’s the worst that can happen?
7 / How? Take action, try this 5-second rule.
I watched Mel Robbins’ popular TEDx Talk titled ‘How to stop screwing yourself over’ right at a time when I seemed to be doing just that. I had a beautiful blank canvas with an open invitation to create anything I had ever dreamed of and yet here I was, paralysed hitting some sort of internal snooze button while that revolving door spun. Fear had a lot to do with it and almost knowingly, Mel said: ‘when your thoughts and feelings are at war… your feelings are always going to win’. Struck by similar feelings in her own life she developed this technique to propel herself into action by realising ‘if you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea’ … try it! Start with something as simple as getting out of bed when your alarm goes off in the morning, or commit to going to that gym class with a friend within 5 seconds of them asking. FYI: that beautiful canvas is no blank white space, you’re reading it!
8 / See your life the way you want it to play out.
On a gorgeous sunny day in January 2015, I headed off to the beach throwing a brand new notebook into my bag. For whatever reason, I intentionally wrote down what I wanted for my life while I lay there tanning… maybe it was because I’d just come out of a break-up and felt the need to reconnect with myself. I was still working for my ad agency at the time and unbeknownst to me, I was a few months away from experiencing a profoundly devastating loss that would make me let go of everything as I knew it. I wrote about travel; about seeing myself creating my own business and having clients all over the world; I saw myself connecting with old friends and meeting new ones; I saw myself not having all the answers but many questions and that was ok, in fact, that was better because it meant a journey of discovery rather than a dead end; I saw myself being truly happy and feeling a sense of security and gratitude for everything I could give myself rather than seeking that from someone else. It’s 2 years later and that person I wrote about is very much here. After losing my mom in June 2015, I resigned from real life as I knew it and ended up travelling rather unexpectedly to 6 countries. I met up with friends I hadn’t seen in 10 years and made new ones along the way that opened me up to different points of view. I returned home after living in another country only to find people I admired approaching me to help them in ways I always envisioned I could. Some of those projects were briefed by people I’d met overseas and so my travels continued. It’s crazy, but you really can manifest what you want to feel if you consciously work away at it.
9 / Oh honey, let go …
Let your hair down! Also, be ok with having really bad hair days in humid countries. Stop trying to control everything around you because when you look back you will see how your life plays out cinematically. Relationships come and go, be ok with that, learn from them. Nothing is permanent including your time here so have fun and skinny-dip at least once.