The practice of grateful living invites you to be fully present to every moment. In a world that values productivity, speed, and multitasking, your full presence offers another way to arrive to your daily tasks, complete your work, and engage your relationships with intention and attention. This way of arriving acknowledges that multitasking is not an achievement in life but rather a distraction from life. There are many distractions in life. So how can you accept life’s invitation to be fully present? The answer is leisure.

Leisure is not rest but rather the time you give to something. By giving time to that which takes time, you do not hurry through life. Instead, you can appreciate, savor, and discover. In other words, you can be in relationship with your life as you do the things you must do in life — no matter how meaningful or mundane. 

This daily practice focuses on giving time to what requires time and deepening your relationship to your life.

The Practice

Step One: Identify

To begin this practice, identify a task, chore, or something you will do today. This can be preparing a meal, picking up a child from school, laundry, paperwork, shopping, attending a meeting, or reading a book. Imagine getting on the other side of this task you have identified. How will it feel to have it completed?  Do you usually approach this task with the goal of quickly getting it over with?

Step Two: Seek Opportunity

Identify another path to approaching the task (yes, the child may need to be picked up on time, but do you have to go the same route there and back?). This task requires your attention, but can you also give it your full presence? How can you create space to give time to your work today? How can you engage with the task to create enjoyment? Can you approach your work today not as another thing you have to do, but rather as a part of your lived-experience?

Step Three: Complete with Intention

Arrive to your task — this work — with your full presence. As you begin, tune in to the following:

  • Acknowledge the beginning — I am starting here and now
  • Set an intention — I will give this task the time it needs in order to do it well and with my full presence
  • Observe yourself and the work — Pay attention to your environment, the stride of your walk if your body moves, the steps you are taking on this task, the tone of your voice, how the thing you are doing changes as a result of your full presence, etc
  • Complete —  Whenever you reach your stopping point, pause for 30 seconds or more to honor the work you have done

Step Four: Reflect

By showing up to your work with full presence:

  • What thoughts and feelings came to mind when you did this work, and did you make any observations through your five senses?
  • By not rushing, what did you observe that you otherwise may have missed?
  • Who else contributed to this task (a farmer who harvested the zucchini you sliced, the cashier who bagged your cleaning detergent, the mentor who put you on the path to this profession, the colleague who has your back)?

As you practice and reflect on these questions, pay attention to how you feel as you move onto the next task in your day. By approaching your work leisurely and giving it time, do you feel more rested than depleted? 

Modern living is hard. You may not be able to approach every task with leisure and give all things the time they deserve. However, your practice of grateful living can help you move through life leisurely and develop a pace that honors life’s invitation to be present rather than hurried. Sometimes, the best place to start is with the next deep, intentional breath. Then onto the next and the next, until your work, like your breath, becomes leisurely and the rhythm of your life.

Photo by Harry Grout

Joe Primo, Grateful Living

Joe Primo, Grateful Living

About the author

Joe Primo is the Chief Executive Officer of Grateful Living. He is a passionate trainer, community-builder, and program developer whose accomplishments in the field of grief made him a leading voice on resilience and adversity. Grateful living became a pillar to his work since his first introduction to Br. David Steindl-Rast in 2005. An entrepreneurial leader, Primo designed, built, expanded, and led Good Grief, Inc., the largest children and family bereavement organization in the Northeast, from 2007-2022. His TED talk, “Grief is Good,” reframed the grief paradigm as a responsive resource. He is the author of “What Do We Tell the Children? Talking to Kids About Death and Dying” and numerous articles.