New Years Day.
We reflect on the past. We make resolutions for the year ahead. We wish our friends health, wealth, and happiness.
Last year was disappointing. Next year will be better...surely. I will make my year better by doing A, B and C. I will diet and exercise. I will budget better (but I will buy lottery tickets anyways. One can hope.)
I'm pretty sure January 1, 2018 will look just like January 1, 2017...which looks a lot like January 1, 2016.
How do we get out of this loop?
GRATITUDE: Gratitude towards the past is the sister to the hope we have for the future. Hope is for what we don't have. Gratitude is for what we DO have. Look at what you hope for, realize that you actually have it.
Here's an example:
"I hope to be happy."
What's happiness? (Umm...feeling good. What's 'good'? No stress? Feeling loved? No physical pain?)
How do you get it? (If I knew I would be happy. )
When have you been happy in the past? (At the cottage watching a sunset with friends or loved ones, eating and drinking)
What was it about those moments that made you happy? (I was relaxed and not worrying about work. Nature makes me feel good. Friends make me feel I have a place where I belong)
Can you duplicate any of that right now? If not immediately, within the next week or month? (Yes. If not at the cottage, I can go for a walk in the park. I can enjoy the sunshine here in my living room with my cat on my lap and drinking a nice cup of tea.)
There. You found happiness. Now recognize you can be happy to some degree whenever you want. Actively express gratitude for that. Say "I am happy and I am grateful for it."
ACCEPTANCE: It's important to note that I am talking about acceptance (positive) and NOT resignation (negative). It's important to accept ourselves. By no means do I suggest that we give up on bringing change to our lives, but it's important not to punish ourselves for not being the change RIGHT NOW.
I have an anxious constitution. I have a mild tremor. I am fearful much of the time. I carry the judgemental voices of others (including media) in my head telling me I should eat healthier, exercise more, increase my career skillset, get outside more and on social media less.
Can I will my anxiety away? No. I can use strategies to calm myself more, but my anxiety is as much an innate reflex as my gag reflex. Some people have strong reflexes, others have weak ones. It's who we are. Likewise, my tremor is less noticeable if I avoid certain foods etc, but I am generally stuck with it.
Judging myself for these traits would not only be futile, it would be destructive. Self-judgement blocks our ability to feel love...from ourselves or others.
I admit I could eat healthier and exercise etc., but I need to own my decision NOT to eat healthier or exercise in this moment. I will not allow others to define what I should or shouldn't do. If I want to do these things, I will not use guilt as a highly over-used motivator. I will look for a positive motivator.
LOVE: Love is a wonderful energy expression. It's one of the few energy sources that is both given and received. We actually feel love when we give love. The more we give, the more we feel. Self-love works the same.
Example: Take note of the facial expressions of people around you. Do this for a day. The next day, smile at people when you look at them...even strangers. You will see more smiles. Love works the same. Rather than looking for negativity in others, look for aspects worthy of love. Your love energy will follow. This is unconditional love, and in my opinion, the only true love. You will begin to see a change in the reactions from the people around you.
Pets are a perfect example of this. Every pet owner I know speaks of the unconditional love of pets. Self-love works the same as well. If we can focus on the positive aspects of ourselves, we start to express love and feel love from ourselves. This is called self-esteem. Practise this often.
This year I will start defining my hopes and wishes in more detail so I may see that I have these things already.
What is wealth? What is happiness? What is love? What is health?
I will find these things wherever I happen to look for them and I need not wait for them to come to me.
...or I might have pizza and coke and watch a movie instead.