First of all, I would like to say Happy New Year to all those reading this post! If you are new to The Enlightened Path, welcome; and to the frequent visitors, welcome back!
I am blessed to have made it through another year. Although 2013 was one of the more challenging times in my life, as it seemed to be the case for many across the globe, I believe the experience and wisdom gained will lay the foundation for a new and improved time in our personal, as well as human history.
So the past few days I’ve been reflecting on 2013 from the good to the bad, and decided to make a list of changes I would like to incorporate into, or at least solidify in my life. Here’s a list of 13 changes I will be working on to improve my quality of life in 2014. If any of them resonate with you, I challenge you to not only work on them for your gain, but help out others who wish to embody a more uplifting existence as well.
Without further adieu:
- Be Present – Looking back, so much time is lost in life by not being present in the now. We always seem to want to rewind, slow down or speed up time; but we cannot do any of those things. However, by being conscious of where we are and how valuable time is, we extend our awareness and ultimately the reward of our investment in every moment. So any time you catch yourself wishing you were somewhere else, take a step back, breathe and keep in mind that you will never get this time back. So within it, we can either be unhappy or full of joy as we bring our awareness to the present. When we make the most of each moment, we’ll more than likely enjoy where the next one is taking us.
- Make Life Sacred – This one kind of overlaps being present, but takes it a step further. In a life full of seemingly endless possessions and activities but limited time, it’s hard to discern what is truly special to deserve our undivided attention. For example, eating is one of the most fundamental necessities to living. So instead of watching TV, doing homework, or scarfing plates of food, may we take the time to enjoy each and every bite, as well as the company surrounding us. Or maybe while we’re at work or in class, we put our phones away to stay devoted to the task at hand. The same goes for those who practice meditation or yoga. Treat the time on your mat with respect, keeping your awareness fully within that activity and no where else. When we treat life with care, we will always have things to appreciate and look forward to.
- Forgive Past Faults – Repeat after me, “I am not my past! My failures do not define me!” Feel better? Well maybe it isn’t that easy, but being able to forgive yourself for is an important exercise to practice daily, or at least whenever you feel weighed down by guilt of the past. No doubt, our history plays an important part of who we are and where we are headed; but if we do not learn how to properly cope, we block ourselves from reaching our full potential in the future. So if you’re feeling down about your shortcomings, practice not only forgiving yourself aloud, but make a list of them. Look at them objectively and think of what can be learned. Feel them, accept them, then let them go and move on. This isn’t a one-time cure all; but with practice over time, I believe we can move forward leaving behind all that has held us back over the years. Don’t let the guilt of yesterday keep you from the blessings of today.
- Be Honest – Pertaining to self and others. This doesn’t necessarily mean we should be hard on ourselves or others, it just means we should genuinely try to assess situations and/or people. It’s a skill that will pay off in many facets of life from personal relationships to business to school to work, etc. Although the truth is not always comforting, eventually it will be worth living with rather than persisting in delusion. If you tell the truth, you have nothing to cover up.
- Honor Commitments – Can range from small to large. If you say you’re going to have lunch with your friend tomorrow at noon, be there. If you want to drop 15 pounds by the end of the year, stick with it. When we bypass things we say we’re going to do, a little sense of guilt follows with it, whether we’re aware or not. And over time that guilt builds up. But when we stay true to our plans, we carry with us a feeling of confidence and accomplishment. We begin to trust ourselves, and so do others. Our words have meaning, but more importantly, so do our actions.
- Practice Gratitude – One of the most important exercises we can practice. It’s one that can have great impact if exercised daily. When we are grateful for things, what we have feels that much sweeter. It turns what we have into much more. A house becomes a home, a meal becomes a feast and a benefit becomes a blessing. I personally like to write down or at least think of a handful of things I’m grateful for each day when I wake up. When I do, it feels as if my life has more meaning, like I have something to live for. Deep down, we all have things and people in our lives to cherish, take the time to recognize them.
- Face Fears – This may be one of the more difficult resolutions, but ultimately one that has great upside. No matter how accomplished or confident we are, we all have something that gives us anxiety about trying. But if we don’t attempt to overcome the fear, it will always have power over us. That thing, whatever it may be, may represent where we are stuck psychologically, emotionally, physically etc. In some ways, our fears present a challenge capable of producing growth. We can move up to the next level after overcoming the obstacle. So give it a try. It might help to face smaller fears first to build up some confidence before going after the more deeply-rooted ones. Regardless, give yourself credit when you do stand up to a fear, because there was once a time when you wouldn’t ever think of stepping near it.
- Switch Up Routines – If you’re like me, you tend to get stuck in the day-in, day-out grind. You know the times when every day seems like it’s the same? Wells let’s put an end to all that. Life is too beautiful and short to be feeling stagnant. So try new activities, experiment, fall and get back up again. At the very least you can intermittently change the order of your day. Maybe go to the gym in the morning instead of the afternoon; and while you’re there try new exercises. Or try to wake up earlier in the day so you have time to cook a hearty and healthy breakfast, instead snacking on a pop tart; or worse, skipping the most important meal of the day entirely. Drive a different route to work. Sit in a different seat everyday of class. Whatever it is, switch it up so you can spice it up. Sometimes it’s the most subtle changes that give us more energy to seize the day.
- Have Patience – Easier said than done, yet a great quality for anyone to embody. If there’s one thing to be sure to learn in this life, it’s that things take time. We all are capable of achieving great things within our lives, but so many fall short because the desired change took too long; that’s ok. Chalk it up to experience and keep in mind those times you were so close but got impatient. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither were you. So keep pressing forward; you’re closer than you think.
- Perspective is Everything – I think one of the most beautiful things about this life is that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something entirely different. We may or may not have the willpower to change the scenery around us, but we almost always have the opportunity to change the way we view it. And sometimes, that’s the difference between recognizing a piece of trash or a piece of treasure. The choice is yours.
- Care for Self, and Others – The most valuable asset that any person has is their health; an important factor to consider with health is that it’s more than just eating right or exercising. We must nourish ourselves mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. If we neglect any of these areas, we fall short at being as complete of a person. However, when we do care for ourselves with such respect and kindness in all aspects, that attitude not only permeates our existence, but all those we come in contact with as well. If we take the time to care for self, it will be easier to make the time to care for others.
- Stop Thinking So Much – Something that separates man from any other kind of life form is the ability to think critically and rationally. We can take information, dissect it, and combine it with other ideas to arrive at a sound conclusion. However, sometimes it works to our detriment as we suffer from what they call “paralysis by analysis.” We think so much about a situation that we literally remove ourselves from the happiness we deserve, or the goals we can surely attain. So this year, I say we challenge ourselves to put our hearts first and listen to the soul of our being; then follow it. Sometimes all that stands between us and what we desire is the decision to act. Don’t overthink, just hope it’s right.
- Know that School is Always in Session -Thought learning was only done in the classroom? Not so much. This is a concept that took me a long time to realize. But we are all enrolled in full-time informal school called life. Every day we have the opportunity learn; from the most seemingly insignificant tasks to the ones of great importance. And it would be to our benefit to recognize these opportunities, as lessons will repeat themselves until they have been properly learned from. When we move past one lesson, another one awaits. So keep in mind that as long as you’re alive, there will be a lesson to be learned. Good luck along your journey this year, may it be full of blessings and progression!