Happy New Year! I pray that all who read this are feeling whole, rested and ready for the new year. A new year gives us a fresh start, a do-over of sorts that fills us with hope and excitement for what is possible in our lives. As you start your 2012, consider applying one, two, or all twelve of these tips as you strive to achieve your goals. May you be blessed with inner peace, commitment and focus to realize all that you desire in 2012.
- Start off right
Aren’t we super busy? Our hectic lives force us to run from one thing to the next, like little robots. As we get busier we lose our mind/spirit/body connection. Start your day off right by reconnecting yourself. As soon as you wake up, or definitely before you walk out the door, practice slow deliberate breathing and set your intentions for the day. Pray to have serenity, focus and controlled energy to get through your day’s activities. Envision yourself finishing your day happy, successful, and fully satisfied with your achievements. If you do this everyday for just one minute, it will help you manage stressful situations and keep you focused. If you have the time to exercise, meditate and/or practice yoga in the morning, please do it as it will do wonders for your mind/body/spirit connection as well as your health and give you lots more energy throughout the day.
- Use your good china
Or use whatever it is that you are saving for a special day or for company. I have these great big wine glasses I use only when we have people over for dinner. The reality is that the true value of things is not in how much we paid for them but in how we feel when we use them and how they help us connect with others. My wine goblets are just dust collectors if they stay in the cabinet. We are reason enough to bring out the good stuff, and we can multiply their value by creating more memories with our friends and family.
- Make time for that one thing
It’s so easy to say, “I’m just too busy to ______.” I know it’s easy because I have said it so many times. Yet, I know that when I really want to do something, I will make time for it, even if it means getting up earlier, which is not an easy thing for me to do. We cannot add more hours to the day, but if we could, I’ bet my last dollar that we would still use the ol’ phrase, “I don’t have enough time.” This year, make time to do that one thing that you really, really have always wanted to do. Squeeze in time to do it, modify your schedule, prioritize, do whatever it takes to finally do IT – and you know what it is. This is the year to get it done.
- Immerse yourself in fun
D’you know what? We take life way too seriously. I am sure that when we’re on our way to the pearly gates we will think to ourselves – boy, I wish I’d had more fun. I remember how fun summer was when my brother and I played outside with other kids until we could no longer see the ball in the dark, or mom came to get us, which usually came first. We never wanted the fun to end. We need more of that in our lives. Make time to play with your kids, or to play with kids your age. Join a team, take up bowling, softball, tennis, anything that is just play and gets you to laugh and enjoy time with others. Play is great therapy for a busy mind.
- Do everything with enthusiasm
I know. Don’t hate me for this. It’s hard to be enthusiastic sometimes, especially when we don’t like our jobs, our co-workers, or we’re just plain tired. But, it’s been proven that even when we feign enthusiasm, it has a positive effect on our physiology, and it boosts our adrenaline and endorphins. If we approach our tasks with enthusiasm, it also has a positive effect on those around us. Yes, enthusiasm can be contagious!
- Smile more
Like enthusiasm, smiles are also contagious. Trust me, I have tested it and it works nine out of ten times (that 10th person just refuses to do it – she may think I’m crazy). When we smile we immediately become more attractive and more approachable. And, others will smile right back! I have tried it on my runs. As I approach another jogger I give them a great wide smile. Though most seem surprised, it is beautiful to watch an expressionless face transform into a smiling one. For that brief second, we have communicated in a very basic but deeply human way. Smile more and you will attract more people into your life.
- Do kind things for others
I believe that most people do nice things for others every day. It could be holding the door open for the person behind you, helping somebody with their bags, or just letting someone cut in front of you in traffic. But, I also think that there is an acute need for kindness now. Many people are suffering anguish and anxiety due to the economic conditions. Is there something you could do to ease someone’s anguish? Could you help someone find a job? What kindness could you impart on someone who is feeling at an all-time low right now? These times call for us to go out of our way to be kind to one another. Consider putting on a few pounds in kindness this year.
- Take walks in the rain
Okay, I have the song “I’m singing in the rain” in my head now. For me, rain gets me to want to curl up under the covers and stay in all day. Rainy days usually bum me out. So why do I suggest walking in the rain? Sometimes joy can be found in the most unexpected ways. We have learned to associate certain emotions with certain situations – like gloom and sadness with clouds and rain. What if we challenged that? What assumptions/associations have we made that can be changed by changing what we do in said situation? A simple walk in the rain can be the start of change in the way we view and experience things.
- Love your body more
We all have parts of our bodies that we love less than our other parts. For me, that’s my stomach. But, why should I pick on my stomach, just because it’s stubbornly squishy and round? It’s a perfectly good stomach and I would be devastated if anything happened to it. So this year, I’m going to stop making faces at it and stop slapping it down to make it flatter. Nope, now I’m going to accept it into the whole of my body, and do good things for it, like eat more fiber, drink more water and take my vitamins. Hey there pretty tummy tummy!
- Make more friends
I think that when we were growing up it was easier to make a new friend. Now, with everyone communicating via email and doing things over the Internet, there is much less human-to-human interaction. Have you noticed that now all we see are the tops of people’s heads? Yet, the power of connectedness and having a good network of friends, colleagues and acquaintances is still true and essential to us. Strive to have more human-to-human interactions and make new friends. I recently tried this on a flight by offering the woman next to me a stick of gum. That started a conversation and connection with a woman who lives in my area and has worked in the same industry as me! We plan to get together.
- Burn incense
Really, you say? Yes, really. If you don’t meditate, burning an incense stick is a good way to get you to relax and let go for a few minutes. Find a soothing aroma that you really like, light it up and just breathe. Watch the plumes of smoke form patterns as they fill the air. Watch the entire incense stick burn, and as you breathe, try to pick out the nuances of the fragrances, like you would a sip of wine on your tongue. If you don’t find this relaxing, cut way down on your caffeine! But seriously, try to focus only on what is happening at that moment, and enjoy the feeling.
- Clean out the old stuff
For all you gardeners out there, you know that pruning and removing the old stuff is essential to allowing the new shoots to thrive. Sometimes we hold on to old stuff simply because we have room for it. But, old stuff just adds clutter and does not let fresh things in. Of course, removing old stuff is not restricted to the physical world; old ways of thinking, old disputes, old beliefs are part of our clutter. Are you holding on to some old stuff that is not useful to your anymore? That old stuff could be hampering fresh ideas and new things to come into your life! Commit to de-clutter your mind and your physical space this year.