The past few weeks I have had this red cardinal come and visit me every day. I mean almost to the point where I can get so close to it I can almost touch it. I look at it and it looks right at me, like through to my soul.

Have you ever had this happen to you? This has been going on for a few weeks now and I didn’t pay it any attention. Just thought, “Oh look a red cardinal!” Then one day I realized this wasn’t just a coincidence? It was happening repeatedly. So, I decided to do some research. Here’s what I found. The cardinal bird holds special meaning for many cultures. Here are just a few;

  • Christians, believe they symbolize everlasting vitality and Christmas. They also see them as a creative force through their red color which equals vitality and creativity.
  • Native Americans, believe that they symbolize relationships and are foretelling of a future relationship, renewed courtship, or reconfirmed commitment. You see cardinals mate for life and can be heard singing duets.
  • Other symbolic meanings include; Hope, Love, Cheer, Pride, Focus, Energy, and Renewal.

The expression stop and smell the roses is not about flowers, but to learn how to live your life with a deeper appreciation of the world around us. It reminds us to slow down and notice the little things that make life worthwhile. Despite your busy life, it is important to know how to be present in the moment; otherwise, those moments will pass you by. And in 20 years you won’t remember some of the little things that you did in your life.

Here are some of the things you can do to help yourself live in the moment:

  • Make quality time for family and friends. Try to schedule a family night each week, where you have a family sit down dinner, watch a movie together, put down the cell phones, have high/low table talk (where you tell one another what your high is and what your low is).
  • Remember those important dates in life. Birthdays, graduations, passing a big test, a promotion. Celebrate those with family and friends to show how much you appreciate them. Send cards to loved ones who don’t hear from you often.
  • Connect with old friends and stay connected with your current ones. Relationships are the most important thing to have in your life. Connecting in person, rather than online or by phone, can have a lasting impact.
  • Be present. Put away your cell phone, tablet, laptop, and other devices that distract you and your family. Yes! this will be hard since we all live on our phones. This is especially rewarding when you take the time to do it with children. They will immediately know you are “truly” with them. Be present in the moment with the people around you. It’s easier now to multi-task with modern technology, but it often lessens the experience of “being in the moment.”
  • Be open to listening to those around you by taking the time to really hear what they are saying. Notice their body language and tune-in to their actions. You’ll be amazed at what you will find out when you start being an avid listener.
  • Laugh and be playful together. Share in activities with others that bring joy. Make the everyday experiences more memorable by sharing them together. Going to the grocery store can be an adventure. Making dinner together can be rewarding. Humor can make ordinary things seem fun. Just doing things around the house together will bring you all together in a more meaningful way.
  • Give back with a simple act of kindness.  As you become busier, you may start to be in your own little world of school, work, and home, where you forget that there are lots of other people going through stressful times like you. So, while you’re rushing to get from one to another stops for a minute and look at the people around you. There might be someone in need, or who is feeling down. You never know what people are going through in life. Be kind to them, even in the smallest of ways. Sometimes the smallest gesture of kindness can change someone’s outlook on their day, their week, their year, or their life. Remember to pay it forward method. The joy in doing it for someone else is bigger than the actual gift.
  • Meditate.  This practice has helped millions around the world clear their heads of negative or hyperactive thoughts. It can make you feel “centered” in a chaotic world. It helps you gain peace within yourself.
  • Pray. For countless people of all different faiths, prayer can be a powerful tool. You can start your day with daily passages. You can participate in spiritual study groups that lend comfort and companionship. Having others in prayer with you can be an important step to really living in the moment.

Try these things to help you enjoy the days around you and enjoy the little things in life. You may just enjoy it.

By: Tina Torres, CEO, The Gratitude Specialist