How to find the magic in your life

sunshine and sunrays in the woods

Spending time walking in nature is a way in which to engage more closely with your surroundings - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Laura Pashby looks at the importance of appreciating our ‘ordinary blessings’

When the world feels overwhelming and uncertain, you can find respite and pause by deliberately focusing your attention on little moments. Our daily lives are filled with what Joan Didion called ‘ordinary blessings’ which we tend take for granted, not realising until we risk losing them that they are the most precious bounty we possess. Sometimes you just need to look more closely to realise that, amongst life’s minutiae, magic hides. By paying close and mindful attention, you can allow yourself to slow down and live more fully in the moment. Through redirecting your focus in this way you may also catch an unexpected glimpse of something extraordinary hidden within the ordinary — like a luminescent pearl nestled inside an unremarkable oyster shell. 

Domestic life with pets. Cat is licking cream from finger of young man at home."n

Experiencing moments in a mindful way gives you an enhanced awareness of the world around you - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Being in the moment 

Experiencing moments in a mindful way allows you to be more present, giving you an enhanced awareness of the world around you. It can also give you an enhanced awareness of the world within you, creating feelings of wonder, and offering a stronger sense of who you are. Being deliberately present in the moment is a way to find focus. To do this, direct your attention to what is happening in the here and now by engaging directly with your senses. Observe what you can hear, what you can smell, the textures that you can see and feel, the temperature of the air, and the direction and quality of the light. Noticing in this way will allow you to feel more fully immersed in the moment. 

Feet standing sand rock water ocean nature

Spending time walking in nature is a way in which to engage more closely with your surroundings - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Appreciating nature 

Spending time walking in nature is a way in which to engage more closely with your surroundings. What’s important is not where you walk, but how you walk. Allow yourself to consciously experience your walk in this season and in these weather conditions. Use your phone camera to capture seasonal changes that you notice, or details that draw your eye on this particular day. Try to still your mind and focus on the sensations of the moment, observing the colours, shapes and stories around you. When you wish to record something with a photograph, take time to pause and ground yourself. Inhale. Try to filter out any distractions and concentrate only on what you see in the frame. Experiment with reframing your subject — moving closer, or further away, higher up, or lower down — until you have a composition that best tells the story of the natural elements your eye was drawn to. 

child is dressed in an astronaut costume

Creativity is an inherent part of human nature and a key characteristic of our species - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Finding creativity

Most Read

Creativity is an inherent part of human nature and a key characteristic of our species — every person is intrinsically creative. Part of creativity is catching the unexpected sparkle of a sudden idea, but another part of it is persistence — choosing to engage in creative activities when we feel uninspired or even frustrated. Try developing the discipline of a daily creative practice: for example, committing to take one photograph, or to record a short journal entry, every day. You will not only develop your skills in writing or photography, you will also encourage yourself to engage — both with the world around you, and the creative voice within you. The more that you allow for the possibility of inspiration, the more you will find yourself to be inspired, perhaps in unexpected ways.  

Woman relaxing breathing holding cup in the living room

Moments of solitude can offer you an opportunity to filter out the clamour around you - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Appreciating solitude 

Moments of solitude can offer you a pause for thought: a chance to take a breath, and an opportunity to filter out the clamour around you. We live in an ever-connected world, with the internet at our fingertips and millions of voices continually present in our pockets. Sometimes the best way to find solitude is to switch off your phone for an hour and escape. Solitude can be a balm if you connect with the physical world. Instead of taking pictures with your phone, consider picking up a film camera, or an instant camera. Instead of reading articles online, visit a library or a bookshop. Instead of scrolling through Instagram, pull on your coat, step outside and walk somewhere new. 

SUBSCRIBE to Cotswold Life for more on health and wellbeing

Young woman with backpack sitting on an edge of cliff and looking to a sky

You can use words or photographs to capture mindful moments and to tell little stories from your life - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Capturing stories 

You can use words or photographs to capture mindful moments and to tell little stories from your life. In the simplest of terms, a story can be reduced to the understanding that somewhere, sometime, something changed. When you tell your own little stories, whether with words or images, you are communicating these same three elements: somewhere (the setting or location where the story takes place), sometime (when the story takes place), something changed (the event or shift that is at the heart of the story). In the smallest stories, the element of change may also be small — a thought, an observed sensation, a tiny happening — but even tiny changes can be meaningful, and small doesn't equate to insignificant: little moments add up to the narratives that carry us all. 

READ MORE: Discover extraordinary escapes in the Cotswolds

Little Stories of Your Life, by Laura Pashby

Little Stories of Your Life, by Laura Pashby - Credit: Quadrille Publishing

Little Stories of Your Life: Find Your Voice, Share Your World and Tell Your Story, by Cotswold-based writer and photographer Laura Pashby, is a hardback priced at £16.99 and published by Quadrille Publishing.