Have you heard the saying you must love yourself before you can love others? The same goes for serving others. Think of it like this, in order to give yourself fully to those around you, you cannot be distracted by your wants or desires or it will be impossible to serve others. In yoga this concept is centered around non-attachment, the idea that we detach ourselves from personal desires and by doing so we can only then focus on others.
I find this extremely hard in the western world where we have hundreds of obligations, expectations and material desires, not to mention in recent years a social status to uphold. It may be unrealistic in our lives to be able to practice complete non-attachment due to our lifestyle and that is why perhaps a more realistic approach is to fill your cup. If you check the box of what makes you happy and that fills your cup up then you find contentment and your desires become obsolete. Once this happens you will be able to help or serve others around you filling their cups as yours is already full, which for many of us being able to help others truly makes us happy. If it seems like a bit of a conundrum it is, after all I am saying if what makes us truly happy is to make others happy the only way you can accomplish that is by doing what makes you happy first and only then can you make others happy because your attempt at making yourself happy has already been completed. It is a closed loop.
Now back to how you fill your cup. Filling your cup can be a lifelong journey but it does not have to start that way, we can take baby steps and those baby steps can go a long way in creating a routine that becomes automatic. How empowering is it to automatically fill your cup everyday without even thinking about it. The good habits where we take care of ourselves are the best kind and overtime they may even replace the bad habits we have formed. Repetition can easily become a routine over time and a routine is hard to break, just like a habit. It becomes part of who we are and in this case it makes us a happier version of ourselves. Whether you want to create a routine that fills your cup or over time or want to slowly chip away at a lifelong achievement baby steps can pave the way.
Filling your cup can mean different things to different people depending on their mindset or situation. These can range from meeting your basic needs to fulfilling desires. Identifying what will make you tick and build who you are and put it into a tangible task is the most challenging part. Try the steps below to start heading in the right direction.
- Brainstorm by creating a list of the things you love or the things that make you feel content or even happy. Understand your ability to take care of yourself can grow over time, depending on where you are in life you may want to start with listing basic things that meet your needs that you don’t have time for or things that simply help you take the edge off.
- How can you turn the items on this list into an action that you can complete each day or multiple times a week? How can you turn these things that you love into an opportunity to become a better version of yourself, creating an action where you get something out of it beyond satisfaction. What does this look like, how does it fit into your schedule? At first try to find an activity you can fit into 15-30 minutes.
- Determine how much time you can dedicate to these activities with the minimum being 15 minutes a day for 5 out of 7 days of the week.
- Consider if there anything you need to give up in order to find this time each day, where can you consistently fit it in?
- Create a plan. What you plan to do to fill your cup, when and how often you will do it. This plan does not need to be written out but if it is it will be easier to reference and not forget.
- Start the day you create your plan! Required: Add to your plan to tell yourself 3 things you are thankful for, proud of or love about yourself each day.
- In the beginning document that you have done something each day that fills your cup. Even a check on a calendar or a text to yourself that says what you did with a smiley face works.
- Check in periodically (every couple of weeks is what I recommend at first) and ask yourself these questions.
- What percentage of the plan did I complete?
- Did I complete some activities more than others, if so why, did they take less time or did I make more time for them because I enjoy them.
- Revisit your list, mix it up, remove or add and create new activities.
- If you have met your plan expand your time or create larger objectives to work towards.
In a perfect world we do not need to be this rigorous and we certainly don’t need to put this much thought into doing things that make us happy but this is the reality of the world most of us live in, myself included. We have competing priorities, children, a job or jobs, significant others, partners, family and more. Unfortunately, society suggests more often than not that you don’t have time for yourself but the more time we make for ourselves the more time we will realize we have to dedicate to others because we will not be mentally distracted by what we wished we were doing instead.
The more time we make for ourselves the more time we will realize we have to dedicate to others because we will not be mentally distracted by what we wished we were doing instead.
If this is not fun for you do not do it. Filling your cup should not be forced, rather something you look forward to. Remember not completing something that fills your cup does not mean you fail, it becomes an opportunity to practice non-attachment. See if you can be ok with the fact that you did not have time or you had to focus on something else understanding that day maybe you just couldn’t fill your cup or something unexpected is what filled your cup that day.
Here is a plan I have in place for myself. I do not always complete everything on this list but it gives me something to follow and ask myself why I have not made time. As you can see I have options, if I do not have time for yoga I will do a short meditation. Too often I end up looking at my list after feeling frustrated in life. The moment I pull it out I already know why I am frustrated and it is because I have not done anything to take care of myself or make myself happy. All of this is easier said than done but we can always start with baby steps.
|Option 1||Yoga||Walk with dog and family Minimum 10 minute workout||Yoga Cook a new recipe||Walk with dog and family Minimum 10 minute workout||Yoga||Create something (craft/art/bake) Practice new language||Paddleboard or Ski|
|Option 2||Walk with dog and family Minimum 10 minute workout||Yoga (or meditate)||Walk with dog and family Minimum 10 minute workout||Yoga (or meditate)||Walk with dog and family Minimum 10 minute workout||Hike or Snowshoe||Organize a part of the house (catching up on laundry and cleaning counts) Practice new language|
Taking baby steps is not a new solution, it is applied throughout many disciplines, check out the 10 minute miracle solution and the power of daily goal blogs to get another perspective on this concept I’ve laid out here. If these reads do not get your motivation and creative juices going of course default to yoga with this entire yoga sequence centered around filling your cup.
I want to hear from you if you thoughts on this topic. Do you find it is hard to fill your cup, have you had success carving out small amounts of time to do the things that make you happy, what was that experience like? Please share in the comments section below.