To end the year and begin anew, I am reflecting on some of the lessons that resonated deeply with me this year. So, I leave you with my New Year's Tips for a Joy-filled and Peaceful 2018.
(1) Stop "shoulding" all over yourself.
When we learn to be more mindful of our thoughts, we begin to notice that we are our own worst critic. In the new year, stop the "should haves" and enjoy more of the "Wow - I did that!" The antidote to self-criticism is self-compassion and kindness. You may think this sounds rather self-indulgent or narcissistic, but the truth is self-compassion is actually a super healthy thing to do. A 2010 study showed that people with higher levels of self-compassion were less likely to report depression and anxiety. So, try making a list at the end of each day of five things you did well that day, instead of the things you did poorly or failed to do at all. They don't have to be major accomplishments, but each and every day you do so many things that deserve a little recognition, and who better to take note of those things than you!
(2) This is how it is right now.
Mindfulness teaches us the important lesson of impermanence. As we learn to be more aware of our bodies, minds and emotions, we begin to see that nothing lasts. So, adopting the mantra - this is how it is right now, especially during difficult times, helps us to recognize that this uncomfortable feeling will not last forever, even though we often think it will. Instead, simply remind yourself that this is how it is right now. As Vinny Ferraro, one of my amazing mindfulness teachers explains, this phrase helps us let go of the main message we send ourselves that something has to be done, and instead helps us understand that maybe something just has to be felt. And, the only way forward is through it. There is an element of forgiveness here as well. This is not personal. This is not about who we are, but merely what we are feeling right now We can forgive ourselves for feeling what we are feeling, and simply feel it, allowing it to move through us because this is how it is right now. And, it's OK.
(3) Multiply Your Joy
If we can learn to share the joy of other people's happiness we can multiply our own happiness exponentially. The ancient Buddhist principal of Mudita is most closely translated as sympathetic joy, although ironically there is no equivalent word in English. As the Dalai Lama once said, there are so many people in this world, it simply makes sense to make their happiness a source of our own happiness. Then our chances of experiencing joy are enhanced by six billion to one. And, who wouldn't want that? Yet, we often rejoice in what we get, not in what others get. When we hear about someone else's good fortune, our minds habitually turn to "what about me" and this makes us think about what we lack in our own lives. Happiness is like the flame on a candle, when you light one candle with the flame of another it does not diminish that flame's brightness, but instead simply doubles the flame. So take the time to recognize and feel the great joy in other people's lives and add more joy to your own!
(4) Unplug and Plug In
Take more time each day to unplug from your device and really plug in to the world right in front of you. There is so much to see, and so much beauty to enjoy, but we are often too busy tuning out to notice it. We also miss many opportunities to connect with each other when we are busy trying to connect online. Make it a point in 2018 to spend less time online and more time in your real life which is happening right in front of you.
(5) Enjoy Simple Pleasures
Our lives are complicated, fast-paced and hectic. Where are we so busy going? What are we so busy doing? Take more time in 2018 to be exactly where you are and enjoy those simple pleasures each day that make up the small moments that add up to our lives.
With that I wish you many beautiful sunsets, long walks, laughter with friends, meaningful conversations and an abundance of love in the coming year!
in peace & love ,