Every New Year’s Eve for the last twenty years, I have set familiar goals along with the rest of the world. The usual hot list. I’m going to be the fittest I’ve ever been. I’m going to achieve the most I’ve ever achieved. I’m going to pay off any loans and get rich, so I can do even more with my life! My New Year’s resolutions were strikingly similar each year, always leaving me feeling like it was ground hog day on January the 1st.
Until the year my mother died. Our beautiful young 58-year-old mother had been fighting cancer throughout 2009. That year, the only New Year’s resolution that mattered was to enjoy more time together, as a family. We sipped on homemade cocktails, we danced, and sang wildly out of tune. Laughing and hugging tighter than ever, grasping onto each moment.
Something about swaying so close to death, gives one such freedom to live.
When the clock struck midnight January 1st, 2010, my mother whispered into my ear.
“Be happy, darling.”
Just a few months later she was gone. And my search for happiness, began.
What was strikingly obvious to me in the aftermath of my grief, was our mother didn’t take anything with her. Not the great big dream house that my parents had worked their whole lives to achieve, nor her precious jewelry, or any belongings. She didn’t take her physical body; she didn’t take any hard- earned savings. What she did take was her final breath, surrounded by the voices of her family declaring their undying love.
“Everyone you meet always asks if you have a career, are married or own a house as if life was some kind of grocery list. But no one asks are you happy.” Heath Ledger
What if you didn’t have the pressure of setting any goals this New Year’s Eve? What if you had permission to just forget the unspoken rules of life? The rule that you must always be on an upward trajectory of achieving more stuff. Where you have to sweat hard to fit into those tighter jeans, climb faster up the next step of the ladder, buy a bigger house and stay looking as good as possible to get, or keep a nice socially acceptable partner.
What if your goal was as simple as letting yourself be free to live?
This could be the best year of your life so far, and not for the reasons you think. This could be the year you give yourself a break. A break from trying to achieve, and instead start your mission to cultivating inner calm and happiness.
5 Tips To Turn New Year’s Resolutions into New Years Revolutions.
1- Instead of dropping a jeans size lets talk about shrinking negative feelings and anxiety. Every morning before you roll out of bed. Look at this note you are about to write yourself. It reads:
Today I choose not to worry.
The latest neuroscience shows that mindfulness training can rewire your brain to gravitate towards loving-kindness, positive emotions and empathy. If you start retraining your brain to self-regulate negative emotions, you will literally be shrinking the automatic anxiety response that your brain has been defaulting to over the years. You will rewire your brain to not jump to worrying when issues arise. Instead you will just work through them with ease.
2- Instead of trying to find or keep the perfect partner. How about falling in love with yourself. Don’t wait for some one else to start enjoying yourself. Be the person you want to date, take yourself out for sunset walks, treat yourself to a massage, have a sleep in with a great book, or whatever it is that makes you happy. When you start carving time out for yourself, you will naturally attract people that are well balanced, like minded and have invested in their own self care. Life has a way of reflecting back to you, the love that you put into yourself.
3- Give yourself permission to ease into your day. Life is not a rat race, it is your life. Stop, breath, enjoy a cup of tea, instead of scrambling to the door out of control. Give yourself an extra ten minutes at night to wind down, and 10 minutes in the morning to start the day with calm. If you think you don’t have an extra 10 minutes; you a telling a self sabotaging lie. Take back your 10 minutes from social media scrolling and set yourself up for a great day.
4- Stop worrying about your love handles or the number of wrinkles that are visible on your face. Understand that you can eat as much as you want until you’re full, as long as it contains 70% wholefoods and vegetables. This way of eating will nourish you and keep you feeling young. You will never have to diet again, and people will ask you why you look ten years younger than your age. Its simple, don’t diet, just eat well.
5- Let your inner child rule, no goal setting, just more fun. The term inner child has been thrown around a lot lately. Here is the quickest way to reintroduce little you, to big you. Close your eyes and flash back to the time you first rode a bike, or went swimming, the time you played football or jumped on a trampoline. Can you see yourself? Feel the rush of joy you experienced, watch little you, smiling. Now bring your inner child to the present moment. What do you see? How do you feel? Don’t you just want to be happy?
That’s it folks. No unobtainable goals that leave you feeling let down if you don’t reach them by the end of the year. This year can be your revolution to a deeper happiness. You will notice that everything else that you ever wanted in life will be awakened too.
Life’s short. Be happy darling.