“In every change, in every falling leaf, there is some pain, some beauty. And that’s the way new leaves grow.”
― Amit Ray
The past two years have been a rough ride for many people. Many of us no doubt went into the year thinking the pandemic would soon be over. It seems now, however, that we will just have to learn to live different lives than we had envisioned.
One of the laws of life is unpredictability. At the same time our habits, fears, and mental resilience, in essence, determine how we deal with unexpected changes and challenges.
It is when the rug is pulled from your feet when the familiar map disappears when you are forced out of home territory that the universe is also offering you the greatest opportunity to reframe and redefine yourself.
How did you start the previous year?
Life is never a linear trajectory. How you look at things is a matter of mindset and perspective. How about looking back at the beginning of the old year and what thoughts you had then. Did you have any resolutions on how you would approach the year? Did those resolutions come to fruition? In fact, studies show that most people give up on their resolutions before the month of January has even ended.
A much better way of starting the New Year is by reflecting on the blessings of the past year. What were those five best moments and successes you had? Looking back will help you pick up on the positive lessons you learned and what positive habits you can build on.
What three key lessons did I learn during the past twelve months?
What has to be accepted that cannot be changed?
What old relationships, concepts, and ideas do I have to liberate myself from?
Starting a daily gratitude ritual
Numerous studies show that people who have a daily gratitude practice and who count their blessings are happier in their lives. It shifts your attention from what is negative to what is positive in your life.
There are two exercises you could do in making the start of the year more positive. Start and end your day with a gratitude ritual. What three major positive experiences, meetings, or insights did I have during the past 24 hours?
We instinctively know that living a more fulfilled and happier life is linked to what habits we pursue. This is why we like to clean the slate and start the New Year with a positive outlook. But there are two common mistakes why most people give up on their good intentions:
The plan is too ambitious and unrealistic. A long list of all the things you want to change will leave you with nothing done. Keep what you want to change short, simple, and realistic. If you want to get out of debt. Start by putting a small amount of money onto a savings account every month and don’t touch it. If you want to exercise more, start with a short ten-minute walk instead of trying to do a half-hour every day. Improve on your diet and avoid all white sugars as a first start. Small changes in your daily routine, done every day of every week and every month bring about the big changes.
Negative self-talk will inevitably scuttle all your good intentions. How you talk to yourself has an immense influence. “I will never be able to do this?” “I’m not good at this.” “I was just born fat and ugly.” “Life is just the way it is and I just have to bear with it.” Try to turn the conversation around. “What can I learn from this?” “I love and accept myself unconditionally.” “I am blessed, everything is good and will turn out fine in the end.”
Change comes with small steps
Changing your set routines and habits starts with small steps. A good way of tricking the mind into doing something positive is by “piggybacking” a positive habit with an existing habit. If you have to take the dog out for a walk anyway, try taking a different route next time and walking a little longer. Or park the car some distance away from your workplace so that you are forced to do that extra walking. Replace a negative thought with a positive thought. Try breaking typical routines like reading a chapter in a good self-help book instead of spending the evening watching Netflix.
Highly successful people never rest on their laurels. They are continuously refining their self-development, knowledge, associations, physical and mental well-being. It is in finding a true purpose that we become who we are meant to be from the day we were born. Quiet moments of introspection, meditation, and deep walking in nature are crucial for realignment and aligning your intentions with the intentions of the universe.
The pandemic has spotlighted how important our close relationships and network of supportive people can be during a time of crisis. Everything becomes so much easier if we are not “in it alone”. We are social beings. It is part of our DNA to feel seen, heard, and loved by those people most important in our life. If you are surrounded by positive-minded, uplifting people your stress resilience will be so much higher than that person who locks himself in a room and blames everyone else in the world for his misery. Good relationships are nurtured by reciprocity. If you are having trouble building friendships and maintaining long-term relationships, you need to ask yourself: What can I change in my behavior and thought patterns to draw the people into my life who do me good?
Life is a roller-coaster of constant change. We move through stages of joy, happiness, melancholy sadness, or frustration. The human story is marked by loss, failure, and setback. But is also one of joy, happiness, and celebration of the beauty that is life. It is the law of the yin and yang. If you are having a hard time at this point in your life you can be assured that this too will pass.