We have all heard the term a ‘cup of sunshine’ before or maybe we have even been asked ‘how do you fill your cup of sunshine?’ In my past, I always felt the concept was a bit cliché and didn’t really give it much thought. I kind of just had the outlook, you get up, get through another day, maybe not even laughing or smiling, just trying to keep up, you eat, you go to bed and then start the same saga again the very next day. What limiting and crippling thoughts these were of mine. How can anyone settle for just getting through another day, for just showing up, perhaps distracted, unresponsive, consumed by another world of heavy thoughts, experiences and a general lack of lustre for life?
As I started and adopted a Mindful approach to my everyday living over the last number of years, this concept of the ‘cup of sunshine’ became and now sits as a paramount ingredient to my every day, my every thought, my every action, to my overall life. I never really bothered to think about the concept ‘how can you pour from an empty cup?’ This is a slightly different scenario to the ‘is your glass half full or half empty’ concept as this scenario suggests that there is as much positivity and energy in the glass as there is negativity and exhaustion.
When we talk about pouring from your ‘cup of sunshine’, we talk about choosing the things that we want to fill our own individual cup up with so that we have not just enough, but an abundance of positivity, hope, love, care, energy, fun, laughter, support and ‘whole hearted life’ to pour to ourselves and to those who we wish to share our ‘cup of sunshine’ with. This is a critical key element of this concept. We learn to establish who deserves a share form our ‘cup of sunshine’, who we really want to give some of it to. We learn to stop letting others undeservedly and without permission drain our ‘cup of sunshine’ and perhaps steal something from us that was never meant for them.
So how do you fill your ‘cup of sunshine’? This is a question I am asked regularly. So many people feel so consumed by the general pace of living, by work/life balance or lack of, by the invasion of technology and social media into our lives. They can’t see how they could top up or restore their ‘cup of sunshine’. The question I always reply with is “but how do you expect to keep pouring from your cup if it’s depleted, if it’s just surviving from day to day, if it’s exhausted, overwhelmed, anxious, unable to find the space to take a break and just breathe”?
A lot of the time, people respond to this question by describing how they can’t find the time in their day to do something that ignites their passion and their soul, something that allows them to laugh until tears are strolling down their cheeks or until they can barely catch their breath in between hearty giggles, something that fills their mind, their body and emotions with a drive and gratitude for life. This sounds incredibly unbelievable? That in the 24 hours of life that we are gifted with each day we wake up from our sleep, that there is not even 5 minutes, 10 minutes or even 1 hour to embrace self-care, self-love and passion? Perhaps living with the opinion that ‘I don’t deserve the time for self-care, for exercise, for meditation, for laughing, for having fun, for living’.
I always ask “but why don’t you deserve this time, this space to refuel, to grow, to fill your ‘cup of sunshine’ full of the special and precious things to you in your life”? I explain that in order for us to be able to be our own best friend, to be loving, caring, compassionate and fun filled towards ourselves and others, it is critical to take the time for self-care. It is not selfish to take some time to meet friends, to go to the cinema, to go out for a nice meal, to visit family, to take a day or two off work, to buy those new runners or jeans, to join an exercise class, to swim, to walk, to run, to sleep, to listen to a meditation, to do yoga, to tend to your garden, to tell those in close quarters to you that you ‘need’ time for your repair, your recovery and your personal growth and expansion.
I can promise you from first-hand experience, when you learn to create this time for self-care, you will never go back!! You can work with those in your household to agree a plan so that each household or family member gets their down-time, their time to refill their ‘cup of sunshine’. You should always leave room in the plan for when someone in the household may be feeling sickly and need extra rest and recovery time or maybe is experiencing a challenging personal time and needs extra space and time for solitude and for self-care. It all works in swings and roundabouts!! It is also a fantastic way of being able to recognise when someone in your household is struggling a little and needs extra help and support. Therefore, it is so important that everyone works daily at keeping their ‘cup of sunshine’ topped up so that there is always an available source of love, protection and guidance on tap. How can you expect to support and give love and encouragement to anyone else if you don’t work daily at keeping your own ‘cup of sunshine’ topped up?
Realising the true value and utmost importance of this concept really was a game changer in my own life. I always say that when I’m energised, full of positivity, capable of letting go and laughing, being silly and having good old fun, my household is in pure bliss!! My husband, children and animals are all in great spirits and embrace the light heartedness of life. However, when my ‘cup of sunshine’ is depleted and I am tired, overwhelmed, in-patient, contrary and give out about little things, like the mess of the house, my household erupts!! My husband and children feel the negative energy and start to behave similarly to me, which creates so much unnecessary stress, tension and upset in the house. I even find that the animals become more needy, following me around and constantly looking for food!!
Topping up your ‘cup of sunshine’ really does work. We are all only human, we are not robots, we need to be able to have fun, do things that make us feel really alive but we also need time to rest, restore and renew. Taking time out for ourselves is not selfish, is not ridiculous, is not a waste of time. Creating a precious space and time in our own daily lives for self-care and for doing whatever it is that’s helps to top up our ‘cup of sunshine’ is one of the most responsible and rewarding things you can do for yourself and for those close to you. You will create a deeper awareness and connection to your soul and what it desires to feel truly alive.
So, the question remains, ‘how do you fill up your cup of sunshine?’
By Leona McDonnell Mindfulness and Wellness_28-6-2020
(As Published in The Westmeath Examiner newspaper on 7-7-2020 and in the The Anglo Celt and The Meath Chronicle newspapers on 8-7-2020)