Wisdom Workout


Are You Running On Empty?

By Susan McNeal Velasquez
By Susan McNeal Velasquez 

When life was more leisurely, summer was a time for increased relaxation and ease. Today, many of us are speeding down the highway of life at breakneck speeds, demanding that we operate in full-on problem solving mode but with the added pressure that we are supposed to slam on the breaks and be instantly ready to enjoy summer activities with family and friends.

We feed our minds a steady diet of juicy problems to dissect that keep us endlessly busy and our focus firmly attached to creating outcomes for the future. Happiness, contentment, wonder, pleasure and joy are fleeting experiences that never seem to get top billing.

Have we lost touch with the ability to let down, let go and appreciate the quality of our lives right now? Is it possible to ease up on our problem-solving mode of behavior so that we can bring more grace and ease into our lives?

Imagine, if you can, what it would feel like to have nothing scheduled for one full day. Nothing to fix. Nothing to figure out. No place you have to be, nothing you have to do, no one you have to please. Imagine allowing this day to unfold one moment at a time, dictated only by your inner nudgings of the pleasurable kind.

If we allowed ourselves to stop for one moment and then another, motivated from our deeper sense of what would renew our vitality and enthusiasm, we would activate the process of making room for full, rich moments filled with ease, rhythm, flow and maybe even unexpected sparks of happiness.

Energy bubbles of delight surface from the experience of allowing ourselves the luxury of accepting that we are in exactly the right place at the right time, right now. Imagine easing up on the results pedal in favor of savoring the moment? No need to push, pressure or prod for more, bigger or better production.

Exercising the muscle of appreciation can be challenging. It is not for the wimpy or weak-minded because, frankly, it is easier to be wary, on guard, removed, neutral or just plain negative and judgmental. “I’ll take this moment, but I don’t like that one.” “It was awful, terrible, shocking, disturbing. Let me tell you how difficult it is for me.” Gracious living gives very short victim stories to report.

Living with ease requires a wide lens perspective on life. Gratitude for each moment is not about manic sweetness, everything is wonderful, gloss-it-over thinking. Gratitude encompasses the awareness of the present moment coupled with the grace and wisdom to know we don’t know the whole picture. It is acknowledging that the unknowable and the unknown are part of the mystery.

It is an opportunity to choose to adopt the point of view that life is a gift to be cherished. It is also an opportunity to remember the importance and privilege of cherishing those closest to our hearts.

It takes courage to soften into celebration and deepen our resolve to be present and connected with our families and friends. When we take the risk to open to the unpredictable high and low feelings that relationships often bring, we strengthen our capacity to participate fully in all aspects of our lives.

The American Indian culture holds a particular attitude toward all their relations that I find inspiring. When at an Indian gathering and celebration, it is understood that the elders are served first and then the children. Honoring the elders and cherishing the children are values that are held sacred.

When this way of being is embraced, it can grow into an ever-increasing ability to also honor our past and cherish our future. In this way, we are all sacred and we all make a difference.

The ability to embrace an attitude of appreciation for each moment becomes a solid sanity tool that can be used to negotiate the unpredictability of this complex world we live in.


Susan McNeal Velasquez is the author of BEYOND INTELLECT: Journey Into the Wisdom of

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