Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A wish for the new year

A new year always brings the pressure of resolutions designed to make us "happier"-lose ten pounds, go to the gym fourteen times a day, eat healthier, work harder, have a better (read: stricter) schedule for this, that or the other thing. 

We often put so much pressure on ourselves to make drastic change that by March (February?) we’ve already “failed” and fallen back into our old habits.

January 1st is just an arbitrary date on a calendar but the truth is, the energy of a new year can spur positive change if you do it right.

Lately, I’ve begun the habit of creating intentions instead of resolutions. It can take a little more time in the beginning but I find myself more likely to stick to the changes. 

I take stock of the things that make me feel good-when I’m eating right, when I feel connected to something bigger than me, when I’m active or spend time in nature, when I create, when I spend time with friends or family, when I explore a new town-and then I brainstorm ways to make more of that happen in my daily life. 

Likewise for people or things that don’t make me feel good. 

If I can’t get rid of the things that cause me stress (because it’s unlikely I’ll stop getting bills anytime soon), I brainstorm ways that I can change or better the situation from my end. I can’t change everything that happens to me, but I can control how I choose to let it affect me. 

It also helps to have a physical symbol of making space for the new-I throw open the windows, clean out the closets, move the furniture around. 

Changes don’t have to be big to see big results.
I like to meditate but I don’t always have the time, so I take five minutes in the shower in the morning to breathe and set intentions for the day. I set a reminder on my phone that pops up randomly through the day and reminds me to breathe. Before I drift off to sleep I think of a few things I am grateful for from that very day. 

Exercising in the morning makes me want to die, so I aim for long walks at night instead of trying to adhere to some schedule I’ll never keep. 

I don’t have a ton of money to travel, but there are some great places I visit in my own province while throwing a few extra bucks into a savings account for bigger travel plans. 

Making positive change in the new year should be fun and gratifying (and realistic!) not a chore. The great thing about being human is that we don’t have to be any one version of ourselves for any particular length of time. We can grow, learn, evolve, expand, contract-whatever takes you closer to your bliss. Have fun with it.

Sure, everything isn’t all gravy all the time-shit happens-life is full of emotions and they are all valid. Expressing emotion in a healthy way is even good for you. But if a particular part of your life is making you sad or angry more than you’re happy and content, then it's a perfect time to find some small steps to change it.

Forget the resolutions that you'll never keep. You may never be perfect, or thin, or fit, a star employee, rich and famous, or even some stereotype of where you think your life should be. Instead focus on small changes, creating a space to exist in that makes you happy or content more than it makes you sad, or bored, or angry. When you focus on being the best version of yourself, most of those other things will fall into place anyway. 

On the days you’re not feeling so good, and those small changes you've made seem far too big, take care of yourself and start again the next day. Don’t be so hard on yourself, and don’t be so hard on the people around you. They’re all fighting a different version of the same battle. 
So my wish for you, and indeed for myself, is for 2016 to be the year in which you find little ways to improve the space for yourself-to be happy, a little wild and a little free, to create and learn and laugh and love a little more than you did last year.