High School Prom – Savoring the moment !

The blue dress- Check ! Matching nails – Check ! Hair curled and styled – Check ! Flowers- Check !  Camera – Check ! Raw excited Energy on a scale of 1 to 10 …. 20 !

Phew ! I kid you not ! The excitement in my house this past Saturday could have rivalled the launch of a space vehicle. The preparation, the energy, the anticipation all leading up to… ( drum rolls please)  – the High School Prom!

My high school senior was going to the senior prom – an event symbolic in more ways than one…Not only as a rite of passage but literally a fresh start after completing 14 months of enforced hibernation due to the pandemic !

But despite this …anxious and stressed thoughts in her head were  casting a dark gloom over the sunny skies of  excitement.  What if something goes wrong, what if my friends don’t come to pick me up on time, what if my nails fall off, did I really deserve this event as pandemic rages in the other part of the world, what if the school shuts down the whole event, what if…what if…
Her mind was everywhere except where it needed to be – in the present moment. And somehow this exciting event was turning into a stressful one !

And as I watched her step out of the house, her eyes met mine, her feet hesitated. I asked her if she was forgetting something….She turned around, sighed  and said – “I am forgetting to have fun..to just savor the moment !”

How many times in our lives do we forget to savor the moments we love – such as finishing a hearty meal in seconds sometimes without realizing or even remembering what it tasted like. We all know that positive experiences make us happier. But did you know that you can multiply the happiness of a positive experience by savoring it – the act of stepping out of the experience to review and appreciate it.

You savor by slowing down,  mindfully observing your thoughts, your emotions, your bodily sensations and using all the senses to experience this positive event. You also savor by not focusing on the future but by completely being with the experience, sharing it with others, talking about it and showing physical manifestations of happiness or excitement !

Cognitive Scientists such as the famous Yale Professor Laurie Santos have researched the habits of happy people, and the one of their habits is savoring their positive experiences !

And as for my daughter, as she stumbled upon this realization that evening, I saw her shoulders relax, her smile widen and eyes shining and I knew in her mind she carried the resolve to make the best out of this experience by completely being with it….by magnifying it…by savoring it!

How do you talk to yourself ?

I saw the red dress hanging in my closet. I eyed it lovingly. Tonight was the night. I had just turned 40 and tonight I was going to go out for a much awaited ladies night out and birthday celebration with my lovely girlfriends.

As I slipped into the red dress, my feelings of elation gave way to frustration. The dress fit well for the most part, but what was that bulge I was noticing in the mid-section of the body ? Ugh, that was a far cry from the flat stomach I had been craving for… Surely what I was doing wasn’t enough…There must be something lacking in my efforts to lose the pregnancy weight; I mean it had been 4 years since the birth of my second child. And my thoughts went back to the Indian sweets I savored just last week at a festival. “If only I had the self-discipline to say no. If only I hadn’t missed out many workouts  last month because I was too busy ” !! Clearly something is lacking in me, my resolve, my skills.  After all,  just yesterday, I was told at work that I was “too analytical and technical” and I didn’t have the business acumen to do my job.

My thoughts were a whirlwind alternating between irritation and despair and sweeping away every ounce of self-confidence and joy from that night. And amidst the dark gloomy thoughts raging in my mind, I felt suddenly a ray of light as I was reminded of an advice that my sister had once given me.. Treat yourself like you would treat a good friend.

Simple piece of advice….after all you would never be this harsh on your friend, would you ? Instead of lamenting the last 5 lbs of weight still hanging on, I needed to celebrate the discipline of eating healthy and regular exercise that I had cultivated. Instead of keyholing on the “nots” of my skill set, I needed to play to my strengths. So that night, I decided to pick up the shreds of self confidence scattered around me like torn paper and began to piece together the whole “me”- the good and the bad. I embraced myself, literally and figuratively.

As I reflect back, on that night, I had taken a first step towards my journey of self-love. By accepting – understanding and embracing my strengths and deficiencies, just as is. The practice of self-acceptance is the first step to self-love; and while it can be tempting to focus on your deficiencies…it is all the more critical to magnify your strengths. So if you’ve made it this far in reading this piece, lets do this simple activity everyday…know and acknowledge your strengths. And then stand in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eye and say “ I am….” and complete the sentence with your strength. And finally, put that strength to use in your daily life.

This simple, sometimes silly, act can have a powerful impact on growing your self-love and self-esteem and can actually build a safety wall against any negative self-talk or world talk.

So pick yourself up and give this a try.

And yes, just in case you were wondering….that ladies night out turned out to be one of the best times I had in my adult life. Not only had I welcomed the 40s, I had actually turned a new corner in honoring and loving myself – and accepting who I was.