It can be daunting tying big life changes to a specific date, like the 1st of January, but no doubt, there is a huge burst of energy available around the New Year to support you in making and keeping new habits and changes in place. “With the new day comes new strengths and new thoughts’, said Eleanor Roosevelt, a pioneer humanitarian, feminist and wife of the 32nd US President. And, while I remind myself of this quote often, it also works well when looking forward and planning one’s year. Here are some of my mantras for a great start to the New Year.
Don’t be afraid. Fear is the biggest thing that stops people from being happy and achieving things. Fear of change; fear of the unknown; fear of anything. Nothing will ever get accomplished if you sit and wallow in fear. You must confront your fears. I want to share with you my most favourite mantra. It is the litany against fear; a prayer used by the Bene Gesserit, from the literary series, DUNE, by Frank Herbert. It’s used by the Bene Gesserit, to focus their minds and calm themselves in times of peril and fear.
LITANY AGAINST FEAR
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
When I was a teenager, I was faced with major health issues and was in the hospital for a long time. Frozen with fear about what the doctors told me, which was that I would have problems with my health for the rest of my life and that it would most likely end my life prematurely. Frozen with fear about what the future held for me. How could I move forward knowing that I would probably die in the not too distant future? How do I move on and plan a future?
But by facing my fear of the future or lack of one, it was helpful for me to know that I should just accept it and continue forward because I could not change it. I chose to face my fear and not let it override my life. Yes, I admitted that I would die, just perhaps not today, and possibly not tomorrow. Note, 35 years later and I am still here baby.
Accept that change is the only real constant in one’s life. Understanding and accepting this will lay the foundations for making and mastering changes in your life and to “live the dream”. Making a big life change takes a lot of courage, but with an open mind and heart, you can win big. What went from a discussion in our kitchen became a plan to change our life and live in another country. Surprisingly, the decisions and implementations were mostly easy, and the move was not as traumatic as I thought I might be. Be ready for change and know that change is how you will get to where you want to go.
You need to take care of yourself mentally. Think of life like putting an oxygen mask on while on a plane travelling with a small child. While, this may fly in the face of instincts for parents or caregiver, the reality is that if you supply yourself with oxygen, you’ll be in better condition to deal with those around you. The same is for living life. Take care of your mental health and you will be able to take better care of others. Talk with your friends, or get a therapist and talk about things that are bothering you. Learn to have a healthy conversation with yourself.
Be More Physical. Climb the stairs instead of the taking the elevator, walk down the street instead of driving, and be more physical. If it’s in your budget line, hire a trainer to help you. They are not as expensive as you may think. Every older person I know who is healthy is physically active. Stay fit, it means something. It’s not about always about the intensity, but it is about the regularity.
Accept and love yourself. As the world famous drag queen RuPaul says, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?” So love thyself and embrace the person that you are. Be you and no one else. Remember being unique and different is a gift. Accept it, own it and use it.
Accept and love your friends for who they are. In the same way one expects to be accepted, you must also accept your friends, luggage and all. Keep your friends close and do not let time nor distance change your relationship. I have many friends around the globe and I feel connected to them as I always have.
Forgive & Move On. It doesn’t matter who did what, where, when or why, what matters is that by holding on to this kind of energy you will only bring yourself down. Instead, forgive people and move on. Life is too short to hate anyone. It doesn’t mean you have to have these people in your life again, I’m saying forgive them and move on.
Make more friends. Open your mind and heart to new people and new adventures. Join a discussion group, a club, and a salsa group. It will open your horizons both internally and externally. Try and find a new friend every other month. Get out of that shell and open your horizons.
Surround yourself with good thoughts and affirmations. Thoughts and aspirations can be very uplifting but you need to believe it for it to come true. Place them where you will see them several times a day. Put it on all of your phones, calendars and computers.
Peace comes from within, do not seek it without.
I deserve the best and I accept it now.
– Louise Hay
Be More Cultural. Embrace your town or the closest city. Get tickets to the local theatre scene or go to a big show in the city! Try and get involved in the theatre group, an improv scene or Reader’s Theatre (I just did!). Join a gaming club, take art classes or learn ballroom dancing. Get involved and get outside your comfort zone. Variety is the spice of life and you will have a great time, so why not? Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving! (Thank you Patrick Dennis).
Volunteer somewhere. Give your time, your skillset and your energy to a needy cause. For those who have never done this before, let me remind you that the benefits of helping others far outweigh the actual amount of work. There are many causes that need your help today. So get involved. It takes a village people.
Eat Better and Live Better. Yes, of course eat well, but I am talking about making food an occasion, not just three squares a day. Enjoy the taste and smell of ingredients, try to buy them from the grower or the market when you can, and talk to them. Set the table, fold a napkin, spend 30 minutes cooking, light a candle and enjoy mealtime with your loved ones. Invite people over for casual dinners, not just big parties. Stop and smell the coffee don’t just drink it.
Be proactive about your health. See your doctors regularly and write notes about the appointments. As one ages, you need to take note of your health. As someone over 50, I do have health problems and to keep track of everything, I use an excel spreadsheet for each doctor. It takes away a lot of the stress of the unknown. Also, doctors love it and you’ll be pleasantly surprised that you are better informed about your own health. Before every appointment I print out my sheet for the doctor/issue and while at the appointment take note on the same sheet about what possible results or changes, good and bad. Then when I return home, I enter this into the spreadsheet with notes for the next appointments and follow-ups and cross-reference it with my calendar. If you are a parent, begin one of these for each of your children as well. They will thank you for it later.
Make a plan, set your goals, evaluate (not too harsh), re-adjust if need be, but continue to more forward. This can be an excellent outlet for reducing stress because you are actually accomplishing things. By proving to yourself that you can achieve things, you reinforce your abilities in a personal and professional basis. But don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t reached all of your goals. The important thing is to do your best, keep moving forward, and go one step at a time. You will be amazed at what you accomplished when you look back!
Think with positive and happy thoughts. We can all walk around life carrying the traumas and luggage of our past with us on a daily basis. By why should we? Think positively regardless of the past and think with kindness and happiness about others. Many people think Joy is a destination, when in fact it is a state of mind. You just need to choose joy.
Be Grateful. Gratitude means being thankful and counting your blessings. It is noticing the simple pleasures and things in life and acknowledging everything that you receive. You should learn to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude will help shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the huge abundance that is already present (from negative to positive). Many of us live like royalty compared to the rest of the world’s standard of living and we need to remember that. Be thankful for what we have and live in the moment.
I am a happy man, I love my husband, my life, the people around me and my work. But this is not by chance, I’ve used these ideas, thoughts and mantras for my entire life and it has helped me get what I wanted out of life. So remember keep facing forward, never back and just to be safe, buckle your seatbelt!
Embrace your Joie de vivre … ma France,
and of course, Happy New Year!