As the New Year approaches, I like to reflect on all the things that worked for me in the year gone by-and all the things that did not! I’d like to share with you some of those things. I hope you’ll write back and share what your biggest triumphs have been. Maybe you could tell me what you’ve learned from cancer, what a personal crisis taught you, or how you found joy in a new way. I would love to hear your stories!
1. To take responsibility for my own happiness. I feel better when I relax and allow myself to be happy with who I am and what I have right now, instead of waiting until I become something else or get something else tomorrow. Waiting only means that I’ll continue to wait for the rest of my life! Besides, I know that happiness doesn’t come from outside of me-it’s inside, right here, right now.
Blogger and founder of “Tiny Buddha” Lori Deschene agrees: “As strange as it sounds, the ability to appreciate what’s in front of you has nothing to do with what you actually have. It’s more about how you measure the good things in your life at any given time.”
I’ve also learned that it’s up to me whether or not I allow others to take away my serenity. I can choose to remain peaceful no matter what. As my father used to say, “It’s better to be happy than to be right.” How often do we engage in useless arguments? Sometimes it’s difficult to just nod and smile, but the beauty is I get to try every day. Besides, it’s not about perfection, right? It’s about progress!
2. To realize my thoughts aren’t always true. Marci Shimoff, bestselling author and motivational speaker, says we have 60,000 thoughts per day. Eighty percent of those are negative. Those negative thoughts can release stress hormones that prepare us for fight or flight, and keep us in a constant state of agitation-negatively affecting our health. Positive thoughts, on the other hand, calm and energize us.
Personally, I follow the teachings of Louise Hay and regularly rehearse positive affirmations to replace the negative chatter of my thoughts. In fact, the Mayo Clinic says that positive thinking has shown in studies to help increase life span, lower rates of depression, and even create greater resistance to the common cold. If you can become aware of your own thoughts, it’s amazing how much you can change your life!
3. To surround myself with positive people. We become an average of the five people we associate with the most. Think about that for a minute. If you were to physically and mentally become those five people, would you be totally satisfied with the result?
Research has found that people who have rewarding social relationships have a 50 percent greater likelihood of survival, compared with those who have friends who are draining or negative. Do a serious inventory of your social support system. Who’s loving and nurturing? Who’s distant, negative, or even toxic? Then make the decisions that are best for your health and your future!
4. To pray and meditate-regularly! My meditation practice has been on and off this year, but one thing has truly changed: for the first time, I understand how important both meditation and prayer are for me. Turning over my worries, fears and anxieties to God takes the pressure off. As some of you may know, when you’re running your own business there can be a lot of pressure! This one practice brings me consistent relief. Daily meditation, as well, quiets my chattering mind, enables me to focus on my daily tasks, and helps me deal with stress in a much calmer way. It’s like a daily spiritual shower! After all, I wash my body every day. My mind needs the same type of cleansing renewal.
5. To accept-people, places, things, and life as a whole. When I accept myself, other people, things, places and situations as they are-not as I’d wish them to be-life is much easier for me. It’s only when I’m trying to change people or situations that I feel upset. This year, I found that once I stopped trying to change others, they felt free to be themselves around me, and I could see the beauty in their spirits. When I accept life as it is, I stop resisting and use my energies on those things that actually benefit from my input. So much more gratifying!
So there it is-the five things that really hit home for me this year. Thank you to all of you for supporting Cinco Vidas, and please continue the conversation and the sharing on my blog. I wish you all very happy holidays and we will see you in January 2011!
What important lessons have you learned this year? Please share with us!