3 everyday practices to increase your joy and improve your relationship with yourself and others.
The New Year always inspires me with the possibility of a clean slate and opportunities to be a better person filled with happiness. However, I find New Year's resolutions to be a waste of my time. The practice reminds me of elementary school aged children going to confession. The list doesn't really vary from person to person.
Resolutions aren't completely without merit. There was one I kept from twelve years ago when my husband and I became non-smokers, but aside from that, most of mine have died a slow lingering death by January 11th and were long forgotten by February. But that doesn't stop me from my desire to improve myself.
My husband and I recently had our 15th Wedding Anniversary, and honestly, we weren't in the mood to celebrate. This past year hit us hard. Our eldest daughter and her husband moved out of state, my son was introduced to aggressive Fort Collins police tactics, and our finances took a nose-dive. Did I mention our daughter had been a successful artist in our tattoo studio, my husband was tired of being the sole provider and a good attorney is expensive? If it gives you any indication, our thirteen-year-old daughter was the only emotionally stable one in our home.
Through these volatile times, I did my best to maintain my alignment. There were times my focus on "what is" got the best of me and instead of leaning on my partner, I pulled away. I focused on irritating things and the universe obediently showed me more. My life no longer provided the joy it once had. It was especially frustrating because I know better. No person or situation can cause me to feel bad without my consent. In order for things to change, my perspective needed to change. Thankfully, I knew where to start.
Less Complaining And More Appreciation
Complaining turns my desires (and everyone else) off. It halts creation. When I look at "what is" with judgment and disdain, my focus remains on the problem and amplifies it. This guarantees its continuance and more instances like it. Appreciation is the antidote.
When I'm faced with one of my triggers—excessive police force, GMOs, or when my husband doesn't replace the toilet paper—it's really easy for me to start ranting and raving about the injustices in the world.
If I'm lucky, I'll catch my breath. All it takes is a few deep breaths to clear out the fear. This little time-out allows me to take a step back and see the bigger picture. I can then appreciate the blessings around me and turn my attention to what I'd prefer instead. Like when I appreciate my husband for all that he does for our family, I see the man I fell in love with, and reap the rewards of a kind and generous relationship.
Less Blaming And More Accepting
We've all had those moments when our reality shifts abruptly and we're pushed into our "Fight or Flight" instinct. Like when my son witnessed three officers break through a backyard gate and hold his innocent friend at gunpoint or when I'm told he’s being charged with second-degree assault on a "Peace" Officer, a Class 2 Felony that carries a mandatory five year sentence, if convicted.
I started huffing "Surrender" essential oil like it's a chic new designer drug. This kept mama bear in hibernation and transported me to altered realities where I watched my son grow wiser and stronger from his experience, and I found ways to love and support him without losing myself in the process. There's sweetness in letting go. It's a powerful rush of acceptance even when our current reality is frightening.
Less Regret And More Forgiveness
Regret keeps us tethered to the past. Death and taxes aren't the only sure things in life; there's also no way to undo what's been done. Dwelling on things I wish were different causes aggravation; a sure sign forgiveness is in order. I need to be gentle, and remind myself that everyone, including me, makes the best decision they can in the moment. Whatever happened was meant to be and necessary for me to become the person I am today.
The gift of hindsight provides the opportunity to glean the blessings from experiences and learn and grow from them. It also gives me wisdom in which I"m better equipped to prevent repeat performances.
Instead of making empty promises to give up chocolate, exercise more, or stop cussing, I'm committed to finding things to appreciate, let go and be more accepting, and remember to love and forgive others and myself, each and every day.
Sabrina does her best to maneuver life’s obstacle course and find joy along the way and assists others in doing the same. You can connect with her at www.Simply-Sabrina.com.