This snowy May Day seems like a good day to begin my KSPP program. I think I’ll pronounce KSPP like a lispy “kiss” with a “p” on the end of it. I developed (I’m using this term loosely) the program myself in the past few days and here’s why…
I’ve been doing a lot reading of general self-help topics, as well as philosophy, brain science and psychology. I also frequently discuss with other people what their “tricks” are to living better, more satisfying lives. This has resulted in the gathering of a lot of great information and ideas. It has also resulted in a lot of overwhelm for me as I keep trying to incorporate many of these newly gathered principles into my own life. I keep remembering, and then forgetting, these many ideas while trying to “live” them daily. And this is frustrating, as I keep asking myself “what is it I am trying to do here?” It’s all too much to remember; they are too many disparate, complex ideas for any one person to try to amalgamate in their life at one point in time. So, in an effort to be kinder to myself, and make this process more manageable, I am attempting to vastly reduce and simplify all this “self-improvement” into an acronym mnemonic. Which is a wonderful segue into the “K” of my KSPP program, Kindness.
Kindness is an interesting topic for me. I’ve spent much of my life efforting to be kind to others, while not being very kind to myself. The internal voice that I carry around with me had a lot to say about me, and much it wasn’t very nice. So adopting kindness in my life has started with how I talk to myself, but also includes a mindful effort to bring kindness into the small interactions in my daily life- with my family and friends, and with strangers. I find that when go out of my way to be kind to myself and others, I am more at peace. I think that as a society we tend to underestimate (or perhaps overlook) the impact of kindness.
Smile is my “S”. Smiling seems like a simple enough thing. I am trying to smile more often and for no reason. Just smile for smiling’s sake. There is a double purpose in this. I know that smiling brings happiness to others, but the act of smiling can also bring happiness to ourselves. We tend to think of being happy and then smiling as a result of that happiness, but it can be turned around as well. Smiling when you’re not happy, can make you happy. I have tried this recently. I’ve been trying to smile in some of the hardest yoga poses, the ones where I really struggle. And even in the midst of all that struggle, I find that if I smile, I do feel happy.
Next comes Posture, the first “P”. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have been working on my posture for a long time, and anticipate that I will for a long time to come. At first, the awareness of my posture started with noticing that I was hunched over a lot, that my back hurt regularly and I did want to be one of those old ladies who couldn’t unhunch herself after years of not standing erect. My husband and my grandfather were all to happy to point out when I needed to “stand up straight.” My posture has gotten better, and I attribute this to having more awareness of it and to doing yoga on a regular basis. Still, when it’s not in my awareness, I oftentimes find myself not sitting or standing up straight. I’ve also noticed that when I do change my posture to be more erect, I immediately feel better, my outlook immediately changes, and adding a full deep breath to open myself even more is the icing on the cake. This one has both internal and external benefits for me.
Finally, we get to the 2nd “P”, which is Pause. Inherently tied into pause, is patience, which also is part of my “K” of kindness. While I don’t generally consider myself to be impatient, I do value efficiency. Add to this the fact that we live in a world of constant motion, connection and feedback, and we end up lacking pause in our lives. Pause for me is taking a moment to respond, stopping and looking around and taking everything in, taking a breath to sort my thoughts and feelings, etc. It so far has shown itself to have tremendous value in my relationships with my kids. Before I jump in to react to something that they have or have not said or done, I am trying to pause. I am finding that in many instances they self-correct, meaning that my kids do what I was going to ask them to do, they change what they originally said, they stop doing what I was going to ask them to stop, etc. I’m also finding times when I’ve initially misinterpreted a situation, been about to respond to the situation based on that misinterpretation, but instead paused, and more information or clarification has been revealed, allowing me to see that my initial response was going to be off-base, irrelevant or just wrong. I find I am enjoying my resulting lack of unnecessary commentary as much as I am sure my kids are.
Now that I’ve defined my current “mantra,” I will be working to figure out how/when/where to gently remind myself of it. I’ll need frequent reminders, as I know from experience, it’s all to easy to unconsciously fall back into habituated modes of being.