A fresh new year and a brand new decade — how inspiring! There is something about a new year that invites both reflection and motivation.
Decades ago I would have been full of positivity with a list of goal-oriented resolutions in hand ready to charge full speed ahead — daring this new year to be better than the last. In this chapter of my life, I am a little wiser and acutely more aware that this coming new year will be chock full of many happenings that will be out of my control — experiences and events that I cannot even imagine today. New Year’s resolutions are less important to me now. What matters most is how I respond to the moments of my life in the coming year.
Mindfulness has really taught me the value of soaking up being fully present for the day to day moments of life. At the very least, I have become more aware of how easily we can be distracted — by our racing thoughts, our crazy phones, background noises and multi-tasking. As soon as we realize that we aren’t fully focused, we can turn our attention back — to that conversation with a friend, or a book we are reading to a child, or the rich colors of the sky at sunset. Being fully present and taking in all the goodness from these simple happy moments of life fills our reservoir and helps us become more resilient for the more challenging times in our lives.
Perhaps one of the greatest gifts we can bring to the turbulent moments of life is simply being calm. Keeping our emotions in check and not adding to an already stressful situation can be a source of great comfort to others and it aids in effective problem solving. I’ve discovered that some imagery helps me when I want to remain calm — I imagine I am dropping an anchor into deep calm waters. Last year gave me more than a few opportunities to really practice being calm in the heat of the moment, What I discovered was that I felt in control in spite of circumstances being challenging. Most importantly I was able to pay closer attention to what others needed to feel safe and protected. I was able to use my energy and resources to be truly helpful and more responsive. Life’s challenges didn’t change. Finding a calmer way to face them did.
Over the past few years, I have come to realize that most of my angst in life came when I was wrestling with wanting things to be different from what they were in reality. I’m finding more peace and a better quality of life by replacing old behavior patterns with valuable life tools — setting boundaries, not getting attached to specific outcomes, making decisions consciously based on my values, owning my feelings and giving myself space when I need it.
The benefits I’m reaping from these changes have been quite noticeable. I have more energy, I’m sleeping better and my feathers don’t ruffle as easily. I have a deepened awareness of how others are struggling with their own issues and greater empathy for them. I’m learning to simply sit with others and listen rather than rushing to try to fix things for them. Everyone needs to process their feelings and their experiences for themselves. The greatest gift we can offer others in their time of need is to be there while those tears fall.
A few times over this past year, I have been the fortunate recipient of some incredibly kind and thoughtful gestures and often they appeared when I was feeling invisible or overwhelmed. What a heartwarming lift I got just when I needed it most! Those moments were not lost on me and they served as a strong reminder of the incredible difference we each can make in another’s life by showing kindness. Whether it is a stranger or someone you know well, extending a random act of kindness makes such a positive difference!
Happy New Year! May we all support each other in the best way possible through the trials and tribulations in 2020.