Doesn’t it seem that we often make life harder than it needs to be?

I know that some days I feel overwhelmed just looking at my “To Do” list. I realize it’s all in my mind, but sometimes that doesn’t stop me from catastrophizing, believing that things are worse than they are.

To clarify my perspective, it helps to picture my ideal life as a serene journey – peaceful, tranquil and imperturbable. Steadily and calmly persevering as I tread along my own unique path.

In our workshop, we use our creative imagination to go on a journey to Palm Canyon, an enchanting place on the island of Alumanaya where the islanders can relax and rejuvenate.

A “journey” signifies a progressive passage, consciously moving toward becoming more of who you want to be. Trusting that everything will be okay and work out in the end – whenever that end may be.

Isn’t that the best way to live our lives? Keenly aware of the present. Not looking back, not looking forward, just concentrating on the now.

Looking ahead sets off my worry monster. Yikes, so scary! What if “such and such” happens? Or doesn’t happen? My stomach is tensing just thinking about how easy it is to tell ourselves these stories. And, isn’t it interesting to note how we tend to make the majority of the possible outcome stories “bad.”

Looking back takes me down the dark alley of regret, disappointment, guilt. Worry over all the things I did or didn’t do, say or be. None of this fretting adds one ounce of value to my life. These thoughts only cause me to wallow in pain and heartache.

So what are we to do? How can we make our life journey exhilarating AND extraordinarily rewarding? How do we keep that worry monster at bay?

We can start with something simple. Let’s approach our journey from the inside out. Here’s what I mean:

From the inside:

  • Live in the moment. Starting today, pick one simple routine where you will remain fully present in the now. Let’s take washing your hands. Every time you wash your hands, totally focus on what you are doing – your skin, the soap, the water. Think only about washing your hands, nothing else. By practicing with this tiny ritual, you’ll soon learn to add more “mindful moments” to your day. There’s no ultimate goal of perfection with this. Just daily practice of being in the now, fully enjoying how energizing and freeing that can be.

To the outside:

  • Give back. In word and deed, aim to help and serve others. Pledge to perform just one simple and random act of kindness every day. It can be something as simple as letting another car go first in traffic or holding the door for someone. The goal is to make the world a better place because you are here. One small caring deed at a time. It feels so good that I bet you’ll soon be doing this without any forethought.

It helps me to remember these two things by picturing the way I like to eat Oreo cookies . . . from the inside out. By starting on the inside, we impact not only our life, but the world around us.

Yes, our paths will often be bumpy and strewn with obstacles along the way. But life can actually be pretty simple if we set our intentions right. We are the ones who decide to make it hard. It really is all in our mind.

Disregard the faulty thinking that makes life more difficult. You don’t have to believe your thoughts. They’re your thoughts and you control them, not vice versa. Just observe them for what they are and let the negative ones pass right on through.

Isn’t if freeing to know you don’t always have to listen to all that chaos swirling around in your head?

The more you practice ignoring the thoughts you don’t like, the less they’ll be able to persuade you. Direct your energy on what’s going on right now. Focus on the good thoughts that align with your values and mission.

Come along now. Let’s get back on the path. It’s beautiful out here, isn’t it? By living from the inside out, we can make our journey serene.