Refresh, Revive & Thrive

Do you feel like you’re surviving rather than thriving? After the long cold months of winter, and as we enter the last quarter of the year, we can find ourselves feeling a bit sluggish, tired and even a little jaded. For some time now, I have looked at the beginning of spring as my own New Year – a time to reassess and set new goals and intentions – using the earths energy as it begins to wake and warm up, to re-engage with my life. In this article, I’d like to share what I’ve learned so that you too can learn to re-centre yourself and prioritise your wellbeing and set goals for the next chapter. Fundamental to my process, is to lean-in and engage with my life in a way that is aligned with my core values, and this article will focus predominantly on how to do that so that you can learn how to reignite and sustain your core energy and passion.

Why is it so important to lean in and engage with our lives?

It’s easy to get caught up in the fast-paced world around us and given what we’ve been through over the past few years, our instincts are often to withdraw and resist what is arising, because we feel we just can’t anymore, and we just don’t have any more in the tank.  The interesting thing, however, is that that resistance is more exhausting and makes us feel even less able to cope.

We’re also learning from the research [and from ancient teachings] that what we resist persists. And according to Carl Jung, not only does what we resist persist, but it in fact grows and strengthens. This means that the more we resist what is arising in our lives, the more that thing grows and the more energy we have to spend resisting it. So, what happens when we shift gears and start accepting what arises?

What is acceptance really about?

This idea of learning to accept what is arising in each moment is fundamental to mindfulness teaching, and it can feel totally foreign and quite counterintuitive. Why on earth would we want to turn toward events or feelings that cause us distress? Surely this is detrimental to our wellbeing and can even be quite dangerous? Well, here’s the thing…

Firstly, our experiences are governed more from our perception of things than the actual things themselves. Essentially how we choose to look at or what we believe about situations that arise in our lives, determines how we experience those situations. Victor Frankl’s work highlights this. His research arose as a result of his experiences in a concentration camp during World War II where he observed how some people within the camps managed far better than others.

His resulting research found that is comes down to the meaning we assign to what is happening to us. In other words, our attitude toward something determines how we experience it. This is not to say that the people in the camps who were managing better believed that what was happening was good or right, the difference arose from the fact that they could assigned meaning to their experience and therefore resisted what was happening less.

So, what does this mean for our lives today and what does it have to do with mindfully accepting what is arising so that we can lean in and engage more fully?

Acceptance is often thought of as a passive act, a giving up. On the contrary, acceptance is not passive resignation; it’s an active choice to acknowledge reality without judgment or resistance. It’s about coming to terms with what is, whether it’s a situation, an emotion, or a part of yourself. Acceptance is the first step towards positive change because it allows us to see things clearly.

Tara Brach uses the example of someone who is in an abusive relationship. Acceptance does not mean accepting the abuse, but rather accepting that it is abuse, because until they do that, they will never find the strength to leave. In the same way, we have to accept what is arising in order to find the agency to change. And, in order to accept what is arising we have to be able to turn toward it – to lean in. Then we can find new and constructive ways to engage.

How can we start leaning in?

In the first half of this article, we have looked at the what and the why of leaning in. We have learned that to lean in is to turn toward what is arising and to accept it as it arises. And, we have learned that there is ancient [and new] evidence that indicates that through our experience of the events of our lives, our wellbeing is directly linked to our ability to lean in. Authors like Brenè Brown and Sheryl Sandberg are pioneering a movement toward a more engaged existence.

Six ways to lean in and fully engage with your life…

Here are 6 ways to start leaning in and fully engaging with your life in a way that brings a refreshment of energy, a revival of spirit and an overall sense of thriving:

1. Embrace the Present Moment

How often do we find ourselves physically present but mentally elsewhere? Leaning in begins with being fully present. Take a moment to center yourself. Feel the ground beneath your feet, the air on your skin. In this moment, let go of worries about the past and future. Take in what is happening in this moment – be curious about what you see, hear, smell, & feel? When you engage with the present with curious and compassionate awareness, it shifts how you experience what is arising in the moment. Difficulties and challenges become more manageable, and joys and pleasures become deeper and richer.

2. Cultivate a Holistic and Embodied Presence

Tune in to the sensations in your body. This may take some practice as we are generally quite disconnected from our bodies. But see if you can feel any tingling or tension. Are there parts of your body that are warm or cold? Do you sense emotion in certain parts of your body? This process can bring up deep feelings so go slowly and be gentle with yourself. The idea is to cultivate a way of being that allows us to be in our body, in the moment, in our lives. Living with our mind and our body in the same place at the same time, so to speak.

3. Discovering Your Passions [or Your Strengths]

Leaning in means identifying and pursuing what lights a fire within you. Think about your passions – those activities that make time fly and fill you with energy. Whether it’s painting, writing, or connecting with others, find what ignites your soul. When you lean into your passions, you can use them to buoy you up and keep you from being totally drained.

You may be thinking that you’re too exhausted to even think about doing anything else, and that is quite common and understandable, but if you can dig that little bit deeper and make a small shift toward your passions or your strengths. If you love to knit, but can’t find the energy to go out and buy some wool and start a project, then watch a YouTube tutorial clip, or look at some images on Pinterest. These activities will serve to inspire and motivate you.

4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is essential for personal and professional development. When we nurture this mindset, we recognise that failures and setbacks are opportunities for growth. Leaning in to this realisation gives us the courage to embrace change, even when it’s uncomfortable. Think of how a butterfly is formed as a caterpillar it wraps itself in a cocoon and essentially melts itself and when it is ready to emerge, it has to struggle against the tightness of the cocoon and this struggle is what strengthens its wings. In the same way our struggle can serve to help us to grow and transform.

5. Taming the Inner Critic

Our inner critic can be a powerful force, often holding us back from reaching our potential. Learn to develop a compassionate & mindful awareness of the voice in your head – this approach helps us to be aware of this critical voice without letting it control us. If you find that your inner critic is particularly persistent and resistant to letting go, it may be that you need some help to identify the root cause of the grip it has, and develop ways to heal that wound. Working with a therapist or coach to this work can be really rewarding.

6. Deepening Connections

Engaging fully with life means connecting deeply with others. Relationships enrich our experiences and offer support as we face challenges in our lives. Lean into your relationships by truly listening, empathising, and being present for others – this means opening ourselves up to being vulnerable. In turn, you’ll create meaningful bonds that add depth to your journey. Again, if you find that you have trouble cultivating and sustaining relationships, you may want to engage a therapist or coach to develop new skills.

7. Gratitude and Joy

We tend to think that grattitude comes after things go right or after good things happen, or that we have to feel happy to be grateful, but the reality is that we can cultivate gratitude for a myriad of little things in our life – a warm cup of tea, a smile from a stranger, a blooming flower, remembering where we put our keys. Gratitude shifts our focus from what we lack to what we have. And this in turn makes us feel good and so a cycle of gratitude and feeling good begins to develop. In this moment, think of three things you’re grateful for. Feel the joy that comes with acknowledging the beauty in your life.


This article has highlighted the importance of leaning in and engaging with our lives. It has addressed the reasons it is so important and provided some practical tools for how to start to lean in. As we conclude, I encourage you to remember that life is not a spectator sport. It’s an immersive journey meant to be experienced to the fullest. Embrace the present, chase your passions, connect with the people around you, and be open to change. By doing so, you’ll find that you become more fully engaged, embracing each moment as an opportunity for growth and exploration.

In the Southern hemisphere, spring is just beginning, and this is an ideal time to refresh, revive and find ways to thrive. Watch and use nature’s example – seemingly dead trees and plants burst forth with new life, birds sing a heralding chorus of new life and the atmosphere itself shifts. You only have one life and you have the potential to live it well, and to be happy and healthy. Let this spring time be springboard for your wellbeing. Lean in and engage, you’ll see great rewards over the next year.

Thank you for taking the time to read these musings. I hope you found them helpful, and I would love to hear your thoughts about how you lean in and engage. To work with me or book a mindfulness-based support session, please contact me.

Photo Credit: Daiga Ellaby

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