To me, there is no better exercise than lacing up the sneaks for a few brisk miles in nature – or the West Side Highway.  It’s cheap, it’s effective, and it’s quick.  What’s not to love? It’s become a form of active meditation for me and something that is truly a passion.  Every year, I run a couple half marathons.  Last year, it was the Hampton’s Half and the New York City United Half. A few weeks ago, I got really lucky and received the opportunity to run the NYC United Half again this year.  New course, new year, lucky me!

Time to start training.  Can’t expect to run 13.1 miles without logging a few beforehand, right?   Friday night, went to bed relatively early excited to get up for my first long-ish run using my new Strava app. Planned, prepared, ready to go.

When I woke up in the morning, I was procrastinating and totally dreading going out for the run.  What the heck? Last night, I was amped up for my run and excited by the thought of crossing the finish line in central park.

I was pretty sure that if I got myself out the door for the run, I would feel great once I got started.  I was right.  But then I started thinking…

Why are there days when it feels like everything is a chore.  As if there’s a to-do list police forcing us to get through our days and activities.

Those days when it feels like everything is a chore, and I mean everything.  I’m talking workout classes, meeting friends for drinks, a lovely walk outside, brunch…you know the days when even the fun things in life feel like work? 

Where you would…dare I say…rather do real chores than the things you’ve chosen to do?

Around the time of the run, I was in a phase where I was dreading all of the plans that I had made and not wanting to show-up physically, mentally, or emotionally.  Like the run, once I showed-up physically the mental and emotional came, but it wasn’t natural.

If you know me being still and plan-less is pretty atypical, so I decided to listen to these cutes to hear what my mind and body were trying to tell me.

But I started to get more curious and introspective into why this was happening. I discovered a couple of things:

  • I was feeling sad.
  • I was adjusting to a new normal (new job, new income level, new livng situation).
  • I wasn’t showing myself enough love and being incredibly hard on myself about everything.
  • I was overbooked.

I then asked myself when I really enjoyed doing things.  Like I’m talking REALLY enjoy – fully present, in the moment, social media free, happy enjoyment.

What I realized was when I most enjoy doing things is when I fully feel like they are my choice, no “shoulds” involved.

As I thought about it more, it became clearer and clearer on how I could make most moments more enjoyable…it’s all my choice and there’s always an alternative choice that could be made.

The half marathon, my choice.

That phone conversation, my choice.

Grocery shopping, my choice.

Plans with friends, my choice.

Even though it may not always feel like it, everything we do, every action we take, and everything we say is our choice.  The current action could be a reflection of a choice we’ve made in the past or one we’ve made the present, but either way, the choice is ours.

So, what if we were able to shift our mindset to view everything as our choice instead of an obligation – dinners, dates, working out, waking up early, meals, even work, grocery shopping and other chores?

Could we, just maybe, begin to enjoy our days, every day, just a little bit more?

By looking at the world through a lens of choice and possibility we not only give ourselves a “why” for our actions, but we enter the day with a more positive world view and disposition.  Imagine moving through your day powerfully positive, engaged with the willingness to accept what the day throws at you with grace.

Okay. I know what you’re thinking.  That sounds great, Hailey, but how do we actually do it? How do we shift our mindset?

Here are 5 of the practices I use to view my actions as my choice.

Before I share these with you, it’s really important that you know that every day doesn’t look like this for me.  It’s a constant practice of mindfulness and awareness, but the more I do it the less hard practicing feels and the happier, more satisfying my days feel. Just like running, right?

Listen To and Trust Your Intuition  

Your intuition is really powerful – if you let it.  When we tune in with what our minds and bodies are telling us, we’re able to engage our self in the things we truly want to do.  By connecting our minds and bodies with a deeper consciousness, we are able to give ourselves what we really need.  If you’re having a day when even your fun choices feel crappy, instead of being hard on yourself, take a step back and ask yourself why you’re feeling that way and try to course correct. 

Show Up for Yourself & Be Present

Do things because they truly make you feel good.  Aside from non-negotiable commitments and obligations, your only obligation is doing the things that lift you up. There are days when I get myself so worked up that I have ‘so much to do’ – laundry, groceries, run, friends, etc. etc. but then I ask myself, do I actually HAVE to grocery shop today, and if the answer is yes, then it is my choice, and I am going to enjoy every moment of that grocery shop.

When you show up to the things you truly want to do, invest yourself fully.  Be there mind, body, soul 100%.  You’ll notice that your relationships and conversations are better, insecurities will float away, and you’ll feel…happy!

Remember Your Why

Why are you doing what you’re doing? Are you going to the grocery store because you want to make an awesome meal or are you going because you ‘have to get everything done for the week’? Are you going to a really hard workout class because you feel like you need to burn calories or because it makes you feel good and it’s your favorite?

These are just a few examples, but connecting with the ‘why’ behind we’re doing things helps us be present, show-up, and connect with ourselves. 

Plan Less

I always find when I overbook myself, I start feeling like things are completely out of my control, and I hate that feeling.  When I leave space in my calendar for a bit more spontaneity and downtime, I end up feeling energized and recharged for the plans I do make.  I am also more committed to those plans and people when I don’t feel like I’m splitting myself between too many things.

Be Empowered by Choice

There is only so much free time in our lives – spend it doing things you love. Period. If you show up to things that you don’t even want to do, you’re not really there.  When you find the things you love hang on to them and do them more.  When you find yourself caught up remind yourself that it was actually your choice.  That’s pretty empowering.

How do you empower yourself to show up for a happier day?