Three New Year's Resolutions You Won't Want to Break
It's Sunday afternoon following New Year's. My sweetie, Athan is sorting receipts, clearing out our business cupboard of the past no longer required. As we look forward to our third year in Greece, I am mindful of the lessons of the decades that brought me here. Not to our island of Aegina, but to this state of being. While life is never free of challenge, there are choices we make that assures life is immanently joyful. Here are three.
1. Accept life as it is not as you wish it to be.
Please do not misinterpret this statement to mean lie down and let life wash over you. It means the very opposite. But to engage energetically with life -- its ups and downs, challenges and joys requires you to meet it face on. So much of our stress and anxiety has its roots in our resistance to what is actually going on. If you take the word "should" out of your vocabulary, 90 percent of your frustration would disappear. Your dog shouldn't have done that? Clean it up. Ask yourself what you can do to prevent future mishaps. Your boyfriend/girlfriend should have done what? Are you communicating your expectations clearly? Are you even with the right person? Your child should know better? Parenting is calm and consistent repetition to understanding. Teach it again with love.As for the shoulds of your boss, the president, world powers, the global economy, environmental jeopardy or war, some things you can change and some things you cannot. Decide which is which and know that all radical change is a composite of many small actions: plant a tree, cast your vote, sign a petition -- your actions matter.
In the words of Margaret Mead, "Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have."
Inevitably you will face deeply personal challenges over which you have no control: the illness or death of a loved one or some other such cataclysm. This is the most important time not to stand in the wings of, "I wish this wasn't happening" but to step onto your own life stage with the offer, "How can I be present in this moment?" The freedom of non resistance opens you to responses that can elevate a difficult passage into grace for all involved. Facing life in the moment is invigorating and will give you strength and initiative you did not know your possessed.
2. Manage your thoughts, they are your blueprint.
On the cusp of the old and new year, it is an opportunity to free yourself from the past and look with fresh vision to the future. Be clearly aware that what brought you to this precise moment is the accumulation of all the beliefs, thoughts, decisions, and actions that you took. You are the center point of your own life and your consistent thoughts lead to assumptions and actions that show up as the events, circumstances and relationships that you experience. This is not to be confused with visualization. No one would wish life's calamities on themselves, and most people, if asked, are looking for love, heath and wealth. So where does the disconnect happen? Not in our heart where our true desires for love and peace and plenty are born, but in our minds which are too often in control. Our mind, if left unattended, is controlled by unexamined statements we have taken on as truth. They may be old scripts from our past or new programs pounding us through media.
Stop right now and take an account of the thoughts going through your mind. My guess is, from my own experience, some are nonsense, some are negative, and some are just plain repetitive. Ask yourself how many reflect what you do want rather than what you don't want. It is our habit to problem solve by over thinking a situation past or future. When you do this, notice the loop your inner dialogue takes. Do you notice how it tends to spiral deeper into the problem rather than toward a solution? Can you see how this keeps you from being present to an action you can take right now.
Once aware of this, you can train your mind away from mindless thinking to mindful thinking. Like training a puppy to a leash, when you notice your mind tugging you toward what you don't want, gently guide it back to the present moment and what you do want. This applies to harmonious relationships or material desires. What you believe, think about and take action on will occur in your experience. Once you get the knack of managing your thoughts, you will quickly see changes in your everyday occurrences and encounters.
3. Be exactly who you are -- no one can do "you" better.
Each of us is born with an imprint of all that we might be. As sure as the fruit is in the seed, all that we require is within us to fulfill our greatest potential. There is nothing we need to get to make us self-fulfilled and confident, but there is a great deal that we can discover and develop. We can hone our skills, gain competence and excel in what our heart calls us to do. There is no hierarchy or superiority of purpose or role in life. In fact, during a strike, we are keenly aware of how much we depend on garbage collection, transportation and emergency care.
There is honor in all ways a person serves the world in their unique role. We need our service providers and caregivers every bit as much as we need out leaders and intellects (some would argue more). We need our scientists, visionaries, risk takers to find better solutions for our future. We need artists, musicians and poets to articulate the spirit of life and change our mindless thinking. We need people to show us a better way to tidy up, navigate the Internet, fix our computers, mend our shoes, grow our food. In other words we need what you have got to give.
And the joy in doing what we love and fulfilling our greatest destiny is that no one can judge us or find us lacking. We are always exactly who we are, happy in whatever stage of progress we find ourselves. Discovering our joy, developing our skills, or staking our claim in the world. I am I and you are you and aren't we grand just as we are?
Each time you engage with life in open-hearted willingness to participate with presence, clarity and authenticity, you forge a golden brick on the bridge to your own happiness. Happy 2016!
I invite you to read more about my own adventures and misadventures in finding everyday happiness in my latest book, "Exhilarated Life: Happiness Ever After."