So I’ve laid out a feast – a Wisdom Buffet to usher in this New Year.
Each serving has 3 ingredients; inspirational quotes, practical guidance and follow up questions to direct your actions. Some are light like appetizers, others are heavy like entrees, and some are mere palate cleansers.
The one thing they all have in common is a direction to receive support for the shifts you want to make in 2014. You can join in with a buddy to participate with you or you can join up with a coach who can address the blocks you have around moving forward. Whatever works for you is your right choice.
I invite you to now approach the smorgasbord. I’ve set out 14 delicious dishes for you to sample. Take what you like, pass on the ones that don’t attract you and feel free to come back for seconds and even thirds!
A splendid table is set before you so please join in and celebrate with me the wonder that is store for you in 2014.
1. Tap Your Tenacity
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward.” ~ Amelia Earhart
“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
Let me tell you a story about tenacity. A woman was on a four-hour layover on a train and a book idea popped into her consciousness. She didn’t have a pen that worked and she was too shy to ask anyone to borrow one so she spent hours developing the story all in her head. It took her seven years to finally finish the story and during that time she got married, then realized her husband was abusive so she had to flee with her infant daughter to get away from him. She was then so poor she was on welfare. She also lost her mother during this time. Yet she wrote on. Staying with this project through thick and thin.
She would walk her daughter to the local coffee shop so the baby would be lulled to sleep so she could write in short spurts. When she finished she was turned down by twelve publishers. Twelve is a lot of rejection! Her book was finally accepted but they made her change her name because they thought that a woman’s name on the book would discourage sales – this was 1997 not 1897! But she was tenacious. She held fast to her dream regardless of what obstacles came her way.
And the rest is history. This is the story of Joanne Rowling, A.K.A. J.K. Rowling. She is author of the Harry Potter series and is now one of the wealthiest women on the planet.
1. What is your obstacle?
2. Write down 5 ways, no matter how crazy or far out there, you could go over, around or through it.
3. What support would help you most?
2. Take a Wide View
“The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds.” ~ William James
“Start wide, expand further, and never look back.” ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
The widest view you can take is to look from the peak of your intention, purpose, or vision. By taking a long, wide view you do not get bound up in the mundane or the obstacle right in front of you.
So set an intention, define your purpose, or step into your vision. With those eyes you will only see opportunity instead of obstacles.
The widest view also comes from the smallest moment in time, the now. Time reacts oppositely – the wider the timeline the more limiting. You can’t do anything about the past except let it stay there. You can’t do anything about the future except allow it to unfold. But everything is doable in the now.
Right now you have your hand on the break that regulates how much past pain seeps into your today. Right now you have the ability to define your future through the choices and actions you take. And right now you have the opportunity to engage in your vision, purpose or intention, or not.
1. What is your highest intention for 2014?
2. What is the obstacle that keeps you from realizing it?
3. What type of support would you like to realize this intention this year?
3. Give Yourself the Gift of Gratitude
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ~ Melody Beattie
“Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.” ~ Eileen Caddy
We live in a microwave, drive thru, and instant communication world. Never before have there been more distractions, more inundations upon our senses and more expectation of the instantaneous than this time. But what’s the cost? Connection. Ironic isn’t it? The more we seem connected the less we actually are. That’s because we have slipped into being engaged observers instead of being actually engaged. So it feels real but it’s faux.
For example, have you ever witnessed people in a restaurant at a table together but each is staring at their phone? They are forfeiting engagement with the actual person they are with, engagement with their surroundings, with their food, and with the atmosphere of the location all for the false sense of connection via their Twitter feed?
A loss of gratitude is the casualty of this insidious nouveau connection. And that’s too bad because gratitude is the glue that binds us. It acknowledges that our actions, achievements and lives are not merely our own but a gift that rely on our community, family, and circle of friends. We do not operate in a void and the more we acknowledge these connections the stronger we become.
The more energy we put into appreciating the things outside of us, the more we benefit internally. We become more stress resilient, we have greater self worth and we are less toxic because toxic emotions and gratitude cannot occupy the same space.
Gratitude allows us the opportunity to celebrate and enjoy the gifts of the present moment.
1. When are you consistently not present?
2. What is your favorite mode of distraction from the present? Is it social media, the Internet or games on your phone?
3. How can someone help you be more present so your life is filled with more gratitude?
4. Captain Your Own Ship
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.” ~ Dr. Seuss
“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.” ~ Albert Ellis
Blame is delicious. It is just so luxurious to marinate in it. We savor the lingering finish because we feel so cradled by the thought that if it all is someone else’s fault then we are off the hook, and that feels so freeing. Yet the opposite is true. It is like Pinocchio’s
Pleasure Island where everything at first seems so lovely and then its true darkness emerges once you are hooked.
The reality is the more you give away your power to others in the form of blame the less you are able to change in your life. Only when you take ownership for your actions, reactions and circumstances can you turn the ship in another direction. No one steers the boat from the promenade deck – you have to be willing to get into the captain’s chair if you want to set your own course.
1. Where have you blamed others for something that is not working in your life? Make a list.
2. Pick one small item on your list and brainstorm new ways you could handle the situation. Start small to build your skills.
3. What help can you get to boost your skills to steer your own ship?
5. Dish Up a Big Dose of Happiness
“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” ~ Dale Carnegie
“The talent for being happy is appreciating and liking what you have, instead of what you don’t have.” ~ Woody Allen
If you polled 100,000 people they all would put being happier on their list of New Year’s Resolutions. In fact if you pulled back the curtain and looked behind almost all New Year’s resolutions the implication is if I do this thing (lose weight, get a new job, etc.) then I will feel happier.
Ironically this thinking is the reason for most of your failures. Because when you get that thing and it doesn’t solve you underlining feeling of unhappiness, then you lose your enthusiasm and your resolve dissolves. You then set your sights on the next thing in the hopes that it will do the trick. And so on.
The irony is that your happiness is buried in all the things you want to fix or change. Once you accept them and everything else about your life as it is right now then you are able to be happy regardless of outside circumstances. From this vantage point you can make real, lasting changes and enjoy the journey at the same time.
1. What are the things you think need to change in your life to make you happy?
2. How can you embrace them just as they are right now?
3. What support would make this process easier for you?
6. Ignite Your Passionate Curiosity
“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” ~Albert Einstein
What are you passionately curious about? Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, or learn or someplace you’ve always wanted to see?
Use this as your #1 and only New Year’s resolution. Ditch the restrictions you are about to set upon yourself and list the things that come to mind when you ask yourself this question. This alone will make 2014 look so differently for you. It will feel like a year of living to its fullest instead of the same old grind. Shift your focus from your traditional list to this list and see what magic opens up in your life!
1. What are the things you find exciting, fascinating or interesting? Prioritize them from most urgent or interesting to least.
2. Pick your top 5 and brainstorm ways you can experience them on some level, even on a small level. For example, if you are fascinated by African culture but cannot go to Africa right away, then try the new Ethiopian restaurant that just opened as a first step.
3. What support can you get to help you create these experiences in your life so they actually materialize in an easy, smooth way?
7. Say YES to Life
“The oldest, shortest words – ‘yes’ and ‘no’ – are those which require the most thought.” ~ Pythagoras
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” ~ Yogi Berra
What’s your default response? Don’t think you have one? Check again. We all have one we favor and it usually doesn’t serve us – whether it is Yes or No. Most people fall into one of two camps – they say No immediately as a default because they see everything as a problem and so they avoid. The other camp of people say Yes when they really don’t want to because they fear disappointing someone. Either one is crippling you! I know that sounds harsh and I’m sorry but this one thing is causing serious havoc in your life!
Here’s the solution – say YES more often but really mean it. Say it with an air of excitement and expectation of wonderment. But only say it more often when you mean it and say NO the other times.
Say Yes to situations that you’d normally pass on. For example, when someone asks you to go out with the office for happy hour say YES, when you are given an opportunity to go speed dating say YES (even though you normally would never do that), say YES whenever opportunity pops up in your life. But say NO to obligations that you don’t really want to take on. If you’re asked to spend all day Saturday to help a friend move and you’d rather not then say NO. It’s OK, you have my permission. Or say, “I can help for 2 hours from 10-12pm but then I have to leave” if that makes it easier.
Setting good boundaries open up your life, they are not ways you fence yourself in. So really think about your answers – if you get that feeling in your stomach, you know the one, then say NO. But if it is something you’d just default to a NO for no reason in particular then say YES next time.
1. What is your default answer?
2. Be more aware of how you respond to opportunities that pop up in your life.
3. What support can you get to help you see what your default thinking is costing you in terms of happiness?
8. Let Go to Lighten Up
“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” ~ Ann Landers
“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.” ~ C. JoyBell C.
When you have been really upset, or mad, or hurt has anyone ever told you to just let it go? At that point did you just want to hit them in the face?
The madding thing is not knowing how to let it go. Otherwise wouldn’t you?
Here’s an easy process for releasing those uncomfortable emotions.
First of all realize you are not your emotions. You are not mad, you feel mad. You are not hurt, you feel hurt. This may seem trite but by separating you from your emotion creates the space needed to make the shift.
Secondly, bring that emotion alive right now – really feel your feelings. Once you are there ask yourself, “Can I let this feeling go?” and feel what your answer is. If it is NO then accept that you have decided at this time to hold onto this negative feeling. (That’s important because it gives you the power of decision – it doesn’t have you, you are consciously deciding to hold onto it). If the answer is Yes, then feel yourself releasing it. Feel your jaw unclench, feel the tension slip away, feel yourself becoming more relaxed. You’ve all had this experience – it feels like getting good news when you’ve been waiting for test results or some other report of some kind.
Know that releasing these emotions isn’t giving another permission to treat you unkindly or saying what they did was OK. It is simple freeing yourself from the chains of negative, heavy emotions that are weighing down your life.
1. List the situations that have active, negative charges for you.
2. Go through the above steps to release those heavy emotions.
3. What help can you get to release those emotions you said NO earlier in this process?
9. Feast of Kindness Challenge
“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” ~ Dalai Lama
“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” ~ Bob Kerrey
I challenge you to a 30-day kindness feast! Doesn’t that sound better that setting a resolution to diet?
Every day in January do at least one random act of kindness. Keep a journal – it will be fun to go back and remember them and it will keep you on track if you have to record them at the end of each day.
A random act of kindness is anything you unexpectedly do for someone else – it can be holding the door for someone, paying for someone behind you in the drive thru, or scraping the ice off a neighbor’s car.
We are all connected and this connection is the clearest during these acts. The more you delight another the more delightful you become.
So be alert for your daily opportunity to do a radically kind act and see how much kindness flows back into your daily life.
1. Commit to doing at least one random act of kindness every day in January.
2. Write down your acts in a journal.
3. At the end of the month re-read your entries and notice how much happier you feel because of your actions.
10. Embrace Your Life
“You don’t know when you’ve hit a peak until you’re coming down. And you don’t know when you’ve hit a trough until you’re climbing out. It’s all good.” ~ David Brent
“You couldn’t have strength without weakness, you couldn’t have light without dark, you couldn’t have love without loss.” ~ Jodi Picoult
When you flip a coin do you think that heads is good but tails is bad? No, they are just different sides of the same coin. But you need both sides to make the coin so they both serve a purpose.
Too often we assign value to our life experiences. If this happens then it’s good but if that happens it will be bad. But we need dark to appreciate light and weakness to produce strength. They are just pairs. Both are needed equally to turn the wheel of life.
So embrace everything. If you are going through a difficult time then appreciate the gifts this event is bringing you, and know that this too will pass. If you are at the top of your game then appreciate all the gifts this event is bringing you, and know this too shall pass. And so the wheel turns and turns and turns.
1. How do you perceive the events in your life right now?
2. What are the gifts hidden in this process?
3. What type of support do you need to help you embrace what is?
11. Love with Wild Abandon
“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.” – Barbara De Angelis
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama
Love with wild abandon. Just love more when you get into a tight spot. Love more when someone is rude to you. Just love more for no reason.
How, you might ask? By adding in a healthy dose of compassion. When we put ourselves in another’s shoes then we can open our hearts to them. If that guy in the checkout line is rude to you, you have 2 choices – get angry or be compassionate.
We all know how to get angry but if you want to do it differently then remind yourself you don’t know what he has gone through today. Maybe he is scared because he was just laid off from his job. Or maybe he is angry because his wife just announced she is leaving. You have no idea what another is struggling with at that moment so extend some wiggle room and open up your heart. Smile instead of scowling, that smile might just be the one thing that shifts everything for them.
1. When you feel yourself getting agitated or angry with another remember to pause and react compassionately toward them.
2. When you feel yourself getting agitated or angry with yourself remember to pause and react compassionately toward yourself.
3. Reach out to someone to help you expand your capability for compassion and love.
12. Your Intention = Your Outcome
“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
“We either live with intention or exist by default.” ~ Kristin Armstrong
We all have a super power – we see exactly what we look for. So if you get out of bed excited about what a great day you are going to have then that’s what you get. On the other hand, if you get out of bed dreading your day then you will get a miserable one.
Your intention sets your direction. You get exactly what you look for. Like attract like. There are lots of ways of framing it but the result is the same; you frame your experience by your thoughts. Good thoughts = good experience, bad thoughts = bad experience. So think good thoughts. Every morning before you get out of bed say out loud, “I wonder what marvelous thing is going to happen today?” Then look for that.
1. How many times today did you expect to have a bad experience?
2. If you are thinking about a task and you are telling yourself it will be hard or horrible or you are dreading it, then shift your thoughts. Neutral is better than negative so even if you can only manage neutral thoughts that’s an improvement.
3. What do you need to help you switch your thoughts more often so that positive thoughts become your default?
13. Live Simply
“Simplicity is the essence of happiness.” ~ Cedric Bledsoe
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci
Live Simply. However the simple isn’t easy. But it doesn’t need to be hard either. The answer to the equation is to appreciate what is.
How many times have you criticized what is? Perhaps you are annoyed because you did not get a response back from someone quickly enough. Or your friend is redoing her bathroom so you notice how out of date yours looks. Or you get distracted by Internet shopping for hours so now you are feeling rushed and behind at work.
My son calls these First World Problems. They are your best opportunities to simplify. What you focus on multiplies so intentionally focus on the simple pleasures. For example, when was the last time you went for a relaxing walk? Sat by a fireplace for a few hours? Met a friend for a long coffee catch-up session? Or when’s the last time you soaked up the beauty of a sunrise or sunset?
Slow yourself down and you will create more time. Simplify and things will feel easier. Relax and the world relaxes around you.
Remember to enjoy!
1. Notice what you criticize and when you catch yourself shift into appreciation for what is.
2. Strip away the unessential time grabbers, attention gobblers and energy suckers.
3. Get the support you need to simplify your life to make it richer and fuller.
14. Laugh Out Loud More Often
“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut
“Laughter is an instant vacation.” ~ Milton Berle
Laugh more, it really is good medicine. Scientists studying the positive effects of laughter have found these surprising benefits:
- Blood flow. Researchers at the University of Maryland studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either comedies or dramas. After the screening, the blood vessels of the group who watched the comedy behaved normally — expanding and contracting easily. But the blood vessels in people who watched the drama tended to tense up, restricting blood flow.
- Immune response. Increased stress is associated with decreased immune system response. Some studies have shown that the ability to use humor may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and boost the levels of immune cells, as well.
- Blood sugar levels. One study of 19 people with diabetes looked at the effects of laughter on blood sugar levels. After eating, the group attended a tedious lecture. On the next day, the group ate the same meal and then watched a comedy. After the comedy, the group had lower blood sugar levels than they did after the lecture.
- Relaxation and sleep. The focus on the benefits of laughter really began with Norman Cousin’s memoir, Anatomy of an Illness. Cousins, who was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful spine condition, found that a diet of comedies, like Marx Brothers films and episodes of Candid Camera, helped him feel better. He said that ten minutes of laughter allowed him two hours of pain-free sleep.
Aside from the health benefits it’s just plain fun. So what’s your favorite funny movie? Do you have a copy so you can watch it more often? How about a diet of 20 minutes of funny cat videos? Spend 15-20 minutes a day tickling your funny bone. You’ll feel better in no time.
1. Play 15 minutes a day by engaging in funny activities.
2. After about a week notice what things have shifted for the better. Are you more relaxed? Are you sleeping better? Feel more alert?
3. Who can you join up with to swap funny stuff? By using the buddy system you’re more likely to stay with this longer.
2014 is before you like an empty banquet table. What dishes are you going to serve yourself this year? What support are you willing to get to make this the most delicious year of your life?
The Universe is an unlimited pantry and your thoughts, words, and actions mix the abundant ingredients together to cook up your experiences. Whip up something delightful this year.