Your cell phone is constantly ringing and beeping. Your mind is racing as you attempt to memorize your to-do list. You smash into people as you rush for your morning coffee and you curse them for slowing you down. You forget to breathe, you feel frazzled, you pray for more time and it’s only nine am. Then a Hurricane hits and none of it matters.

It’s funny how Mother Nature has to send the planet a violent reminder when things become imbalanced. On most days we muddle through life, just trying to get by. We rarely recognize life’s small pleasures or even notice who or what we have, but Hurricane Sandy blew through North America with fury, destroying life the way we knew it and left a path of damage in her wake. Homes and lives were lost, streets became rivers and basic essentials became commodities.

As a New Yorker, living in a city that prides itself on drive and direction, and a “work until you drop” motto, this storm really brought to light to what matters most. As the storm sped up we were all forced to slow down. Businesses closed.

Grand Central Station.

Public transportation halted. The focus was turned to our homes and loved ones and protecting ourselves on a basic level. We were forced to recognize our lack of power and, instead, we drew strength from gratitude. As a result, what really mattered most was the only light in our darkened city.

We are all surrounded by so much abundance, but we are barely aware of it. The positive in the recent stream of negativity is that we all had the chance to stop, quiet our minds and take stock of what matters most: life, love and gratitude.

Even if you were not affected by Hurricane Sandy, you too can learn from our lessons. Are you racing through the finish line of life? What can you stop and appreciate, today? Who or what are you taking for granted? When can you slow down?

After all, today is a gift. Don’t wait for Mother Nature’s “gentle” reminder.

Tips to Unplug and Appreciate Life Today

1. Shut off your cell phone and email. I know this seems crazy, but the minute you step into your home disconnect. You have spent your whole day engrossed in your job; now it is time for you and for your loved ones.

2. Take 30 minutes each day to quiet your mind. The more your brain moves, the less you can hear and feel. If you stop and slow down you will not only feel more relaxed, but you will also be able hear your innermost needs and desires.

3. Exercise. Exercise doesn’t have to be a dreaded task. Find something you love doing and get your body moving! It can be a dance class, yoga, running, swimming or even a brisk walk. Exercise not only benefits your body, but it clears your mind as well!

4. Keep a gratitude journal. Spend 10 minutes each evening jotting down something or many things you are grateful for. This will keep your energy in a positive mindset and allow you to attract more things to be grateful for. It also will bring awareness to everything that you already have.

5. Create traditions to connect. Find times to meet up with friends or family on a more regular basis. Maybe it is a Sunday night dinner. Maybe it is an evening walk around the park. Maybe it is just a set phone call. Stay connected to what matters most. Life moves too quickly.

6. Take a personal day. Why wait for a storm to take a day off? You don’t have to be sick to take time for yourself. Go to a museum. See a movie during the day! Changing up your routine can do wonders for your brain.

7. Breathe. I know this sounds simple, but oftentimes we forget! When we are stressed or rushed we take shallow breaths. Think about how a baby breathes and take large belly breaths. This will calm the nerves and fill the cells with oxygen, nourishing the mind, body and soul.

Happy Lifting!

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