Let’s face it, we could all use a little more serenity in our lives. But, what does serenity mean to you?

I used to think that actively practicing a life of serenity meant walking around as if I lived inside a Stevie Nicks video. Hair flowing and back lit with auras of white and gold, dressed in Soul Flower hippie chic, happy and content - perhaps a gentle melody playing in the background…

However, that’s crazy. I know that now.

Serenity is not a state of mind that is achieved and sustained. It is something we must purposefully cultivate and practice daily.

Here are seven things I do to increase my personal serenity.

And, note – when we project serenity, it is much more likely that those around us will be able to achieve it as well (kids, husbands, friends…).

1. Stop running late.

When I’m running late it’s usually because I’m trying to squeeze too much into my day. Before I go meet up with some friends or go to an appointment I’ll start telling myself, “I’m going to send just one more email”; or, “I’m going to wipe down just one more counter top”; or, “make just one more phone call”.

Which I do, and then end up rushing around like a maniac because I’m now late for my appointment and filled with stress.

If you value your own time then you must value other people’s time as well.

This step actually helps us ditch the guilt too, because when we arrive to our appointments on time we can actually enjoy ourselves instead of spending the first ten minutes trying to calm down from the panic attack we just put ourselves through.

Whether it's a brunch party, dinner engagement, coffee date, exercise date or whatever. Being on time stops the guilt which in return adds to your serenity.

2. Quit saying “yes” to everything.

Moms have a tendency to over-schedule our days and over-book our weekends, and all this does is cause massive burnout, stress, anxiety and fatigue.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Have a canned “no” response ready to pull out the next time Suzie asks you to be the popcorn lady for boy scouts.

Nobody wants to be the popcorn lady!

Every wonder why Suzie is even asking you in the first place? It’s because she knows how to say “no” and she’s counting on you to take the job off her plate.

Practice the art of saying “no” to the Suzies out there and “hello” to serenity.

Really do it this time, though – don’t just agree that you should do it. I mean actually do it.

And, when you do you may find yourself actually relaxing and chilling out on a weekend every once in a while.

3. Get involved.

Many studies have proven that supporting a cause or a group that is personally meaningful releases feel-good chemicals in our brains and adds to our own happiness. It’s called “helper's high” and evolution has provided this innate drive to help others because it’s beneficial to human survival.

It also does other amazing things such as contribute to lower blood pressure and can improve immunity by raising the levels of antibodies we’re producing - decreasing the chance of catching illnesses such as the flu or common cold. Mother Teresa was onto something!

Doing things for other people selflessly and without expecting anything in return makes us feel good about ourselves, right? Yeah, that’s a no-brainer.

It’s also a step toward truly living in a serene space in our heads, in our homes and in our hearts.

As philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote, “Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness.”

4. You may not like this one, but exercise.

Go to the gym, go for a walk, or go for yoga – just move your body!

We were perfectly designed to move and our mental health depends on it. Again, research shows that a major contributor to happiness is getting into a consistent exercise routine. Through the movement of our bodies those awesome feel-good hormones inside our brains are released and nourish or souls.

Not feeling great? Hit the gym or call a friend and get out and do something. Then, re-check yourself to see if you don’t feel much better.

5. Count your blessings.

Examining the things that are going well in our lives and finding things to be joyful about activates feelings of gratitude and provides us with a sense of serenity. Try finding three things to be grateful for every morning and it will lead to feeling calm, thankful and blessed.

6. Take an evening assessment of your day.

This is something I also practice in my own life and it is critical to limiting the buildup of bad feelings that we carry around with us either consciously or subconsciously.

At the end of the day, maybe as you are lying in bed and have turned out the light, review your entire day and ask yourself if you have caused anyone any harm.

Did you hurt anyone's feelings, or were you selfish? Were you deceitful to somebody?

If you answer yes to any of those questions – apologize, and do it immediately.

When we apologize and admit that we were wrong, and actually wholeheartedly ask for forgiveness, we no longer have to hold onto any of the negative feelings associated with that issue. We no longer have to hold onto grudges or guilty feelings because we can then forgive ourselves and move on.

It’s called “keeping our side of the street clean." When our relationships are healthy and balanced, we can go to sleep at night feeling at peace and wake up to serenity.

7. Ditch the devices.

You read that right – ditch them!

If you are not ready to do it for a whole day, do it for a half a day, or even start with a couple hours and work your way up.

My Culture of Busyness blog discussed how being connected to technology all day and night makes us feel obligated to respond immediately.

We’re not.

Ditch them and get your booty outside. Inhale fresh air, exhale calm.

We were designed to be with nature. We are part of mother earth and we need to connect to it and ground ourselves within it more often.

If you're not into hiking or being out in the woods, go for a swim in a lake or go sit on a beach! Go sit at a pool, go for a bike ride, or try just going for a short walk. Do anything that moves your body and puts you outdoors.

I, personally, connect with the stars.

I love, love, love to go on walks at night - even in the wintertime. I take my dog for a walk, breathe in the fresh air and look up at the stars. There is just something so magical about the night sky, and it brings me all of the good feels.

It reminds me how small I am within this beautiful and amazing universe, and puts me in a place of gratefulness for the air that I breathe and the earth on which I live.

We’re not in control of everything. In fact, we are not in control of much that happens in our lives. But, practicing these seven easy steps helps us to be mindful about our emotional and mental state so that we’re better able to move into a serene space.

Try one of them today and let me know how it makes you feel!

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