Trying to make some New Year’s Resolutions that matter? Here’s some tips we’ve gathered to help you feel better each day, while bringing compassion, mindfulness and kindness to all of humankind!
Being mindful is a simple way of saying being present, or tuning into the moment. There are millions of ways to practice being present. One of the newest ones I learned was to simply say to yourself: this is it. Whether the moment is amazing, frightening or challenging, repeating this small statement can help you focus on the moment, remove yourself from the stress or elation, and help you appreciate the moment as it comes. Being mindful is important for our general wellness, as it allows us to tune into our emotions, keeping them from running rampant. Mindfulness can also allow us to appreciate our body in a new way: perhaps you’re struggling with a challenging hike or yoga pose. Acknowledging this is it allows you to remove the expectations from previous or future yoga poses and enjoy the moment as it is. Mindfulness is also great to incorporate into your daily eating. Taking the time to enjoy our foods mindfully and presently can allow us to tune into often-ignored signals of hunger, stress or satiety that we can miss if we’re emailing or watching TV while eating. The best part of the mindfulness practice is that it gets stronger each time you use it: like a muscle that expands with workouts, a mindfulness practice can help you manage daily dresses and take all your emotions (positive and negative) and turn them into a teachable moment.
This ties in pretty closely with mindfulness too. Being present (being mindful) of our interactions with everyone can help us enjoy the NOW with our lovers, colleagues and friends. This is also brings in the practice of empathy: feeling what others are feeling. As part of my personal growth strategy, my partner and I have been reading up on emotional intelligence, a measure of intelligence that greatly determines one’s success in business and in life. Those that display high emotional intelligence are more successful and rated more personable by their colleagues and employees. Emotional intelligence encompasses a lot of behaviors: listening, watching and learning from ourselves and from others. At the foundation is kindness: by being more emotionally intelligent ourselves, we can better tune into situations and make sure we are being as kind as needed in that specific interaction.
One of the best ways to keep our brain healthy and keep us tuned into the world is to continue to learn as we age. There are so many ways to integrate learning into your life: online courses, neighborhood book clubs, documentaries, and even just listening to your favorite podcasts or news shows can help keep your big brain firing on all cylinders. Some studies link lifelong learning to better cognitive function and ability to see greater complexity and deeper understanding of ideas; other studies show a decreased incidence of depression in those older adults that continue to learn. I’ve found that challenging myself with new tasks (a brief stint at belly dancing!) is super humbling; at this point in my life I know what I’m good at, but when learning something new it takes the ego down a notch, and can be super fun to get outside of our comfort zones just a bit. Being a friend to reduce any anxiety of a new group or practice.
Ever wonder why so many people decide to declutter for the new year or for the spring? These rituals help clear our physical stuff, while simultaneously clearing out stuff in our heads. For lots of reasons, the more stuff we have, the more clogging up of our brain. There are lots of things to get rid of in each of our homes, and so many reasons to do it. Here’s a great guide to get started (how about one item each day?). And here’s why, from Becoming Minimalist:
“Every item you own takes time out of your life: time to manage it, clean it, repair it, and maintain it; time to choose between objects of a similar category; time spent shopping for it… and that doesn’t even mention the time spent earning the money to pay for it in the first space. Decide to sacrifice less of your precious life on the pursuit and ownership of stuff.”
Of course, having less stuff is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint, while saving money and time. It also means your house is cleaner, you spend less time looking for stuff each day and it means that your day simply goes smoother since there are less decisions to be made about where something is or where it should go.
Wishing you and yours a bright and happy new year!