As we approach 2018 and a stress-filled world, let’s take a few moments and think about how to live life better this year.
1. Write your story
Stop reacting. Stop complaining. Instead start thinking about what you want to be. True, we cannot control certain situations. We are thrust into challenges beyond our power. But our thoughts, our mindset, our actions, are in our hands.
What is the story you’d like to write? Is it pity, sadness, loneliness? Or would you rather begin a new chapter of resilience, laughter, friendship?
Begin by paying attention to how often you think negatively. Now create a new mantra, a positive sentence or favorite line from a prayer. Each time a negative message pops into your head, replace it. We can only think one thought at a time; be sure that your mind empowers you and does not weaken you. You will be calmer and feel fortitude.
2. Disconnect more from technology
How often do you walk in at the end of a long day still on your device? “I just need to answer this email.” “Just checking my texts.” We’ve become addicted to our screens. It is time to take back our lives. Why make the people who matter most feel as if they count least? Why must we live comparing other people’s vacations, parties, children, and social lives?
When I was asked to give one piece of advice to better relationships, I responded “Turn off your phone!” Decide to create a sacred space with no technology. Own your dinner time, eating out, driving in the car with family, or conversing with friends. Free yourself from that constant need to be engaged with other people’s lives. You will feel as if you have discovered a sense of peace that has long been lacking.
3. Let go
Living life in the rear view mirror does not allow us to move on. We get shackled to the past. We live with yesterday dragging us down today.
True, there were those who could’ve done better, or should’ve done more. There are those who caused you hurt. Perhaps you are thinking about your own mess-ups and are buried in guilt. Now what?
Focus on what you can change. Think about how to make today better. Do not allow suffering from days gone by to overcome your present. You are only stripping yourself of a hopeful tomorrow. True, this is a difficult challenge but once you decide to let go (and if need be to forgive) you will cherish your newfound serenity.
4. Take time to love
Time goes quickly. Without realizing it, parents age, children grow up, spouses drift apart. Too late we think if only. If only I had listened more, taken more time to show that I care, paid attention, or voiced my love. Why wait?
Take time each day to show someone that you love them. Hug your family more, smile, call a friend you’ve lost touch with, visit your grandparents, set a steady time to go out with the most important person in your life. Ask yourself how you can connect better this year. As the months pass be sure not to lose your momentum. Each day your love and affection should be felt.
5. Build a new character trait
Wish you could be a better mother, father, spouse, more patient, or less angry?
Stop wishing. Start doing.
If you lose your temper easily decide that this year you will work on controlling your anger. If you’re a complainer, catch yourself and make a conscious effort to recognize your blessings. If you’re judgmental, work on finding the good in people.
Challenge yourself to greater emotional and spiritual heights. If you fall don’t get discouraged. Angels never fall but man picks himself up and begins again.
6. Choose goodness
We are surrounded by others whose hearts are heavy. There is incredible need in this world. So many could use a good word, an outstretched hand, a listening ear. Despite our own challenges, we can always find a way to help another. One never goes wrong by choosing goodness.
Don’t let a day go by without doing an act of kindness. It can be random or thought out. There is no joy like the happiness felt when deep inside we know that we’ve made a difference.
7. Think thankfulness
Gratitude is the oxygen of life. When we appreciate the people in our lives we grow to cherish more and complain less. When we open our eyes to all that we have, we become cognizant of our blessings. Joy fills our hearts.
But human nature takes us in a different direction. We tend to see what we are missing instead of what we have. Our eyes zero in on what irritates us about others and we lose out on appreciation.
Resolve that this is the year to create a gratitude attitude. Begin each day with the prayer of “Modeh Ani”-Thank you God for returning my soul to me. Make it a habit to think each morning of one blessing you have been given and are grateful for. If you are thinking that this is difficult for you, now you know where your work lies.
Just being given another day is a vote of confidence from God. How thankful we can be for the gift of life. Now take it from there, you will see that indeed, you have been given blessings. It is awareness that has been missing.
Life is filled with choices. We can forge a path filled with love, connection, kindness and gratitude.