A recent study pegged the top three resolutions of 2014 to be: lose weight, get organized, and spend less. The same study shows that only 8% of people are successful in achieving their goals. One reason these resolutions do not last may be that the changes are only surface level. Merely focusing on surface issues is somewhat like cleaning only a square foot of an entire room that needs tidying. As important as those immediate goals are, why not dig a little deeper into the more long-standing rhythms of life we have been living? The fourth most common resolution is to enjoy life to the fullest, yet so many of us struggle to know how that is done. Here are some simple guidelines to create lasting resolutions that tackle our whole, beautiful existence so we are able to truly enjoy life to the fullest (Statistic Brain, 2014).
Starting Off: Where do we still live in fear?
An excellent first step is to notice the areas where we are fearful in order to target tricky areas that need our attention. For instance, we may feel fear when thinking of our finances, relationships, specific habits or body image. This first step takes reflection and a tolerance for initial discomfort. However, the insight and awareness that we can attain by listening to our fears is invaluable, and thus takes priority. Beyond this, we can begin to address the different realms of life that intertwine to make a fuller life: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.
Mental Well-Being: Never Stop Being a Student
Life never stops delivering its lessons, so we can refresh our perspective constantly by being a forever-student. We can learn from past mistakes, our relationships, or from our reflection. A wonderful guiding principle here is to always let what you learn challenge what you know. Other ideas include reading books not in your normal repertoire, attending a workshop or two that stretch your mind, or joining an academic circle that is out of your comfort zone. Have you always wondered about a particular profession or field of research? Clear a little time each week to get your feet wet, purely for the fun of it. We can even look to our relationships and challenge the status quo by making our interactions and responses more positive and encouraging. The best part is: this type of learning involves no grades!
Physical Well-Being: Balance Your Lifestyle
We have all heard it before: physical health rests on diet and exercise. In fact, we have heard it so many times, our minds are likely to tune out the message completely. However, if we can shift our perspective enough to see physical wellness more holistically – we can begin to feel freedom as we open up ourselves to more options for health. Diet and exercise are just two facets of a happy, balanced lifestyle. So don’t just exercise, engage in a fun, creative activity. Feel the joy of working muscles and a beating heart; feel the joy of each movement and breath. In addition, don’t just diet; eat lots of superfoods, and enjoy the effects it has on your body. And we do not have to stop there, we can look at how we spend our day. For one week, we can try logging how much time is spent on each activity. Chances are we might spot many areas of sedentary lifestyle plugged into our technology. Novelist Abha Dawesar asks the question: “Have our lives now become fixated on the drive to digitally connect, while we miss out on what’s real?” The frequent use of technology has powerful effects on our identity, lifestyle and overall wellbeing. The value of unplugging daily is crucial to our experience of a full life. Check out Dawesar’s whole lecture below for inspiring commentary on the role technology has in our life.
Spiritual Well-Being: Unleash Your Creative Spirit
There is more to unleashing our creative spirit than meets the eye. The process of expressing what lies within us is a validating experience that can open us up to so much life. Our initial responses to this task might be “I’m not creative” or “I’m too busy”. Each of us has an inner child and a playful spirit that needs to be expressed. A good first step is to loosen our ideas of what it means to be creative. Perhaps one person’s version of creativity involves creating a spreadsheet just for fun, while another’s involves writing a song about nonsense. Start small. Try taking a different route to work or shopping for groceries somewhere new. Build up creativity by encouraging play in your day which can further unlock your creative spirit. With regard to time, keep in mind that our busyness will never fully dissipate. Stress has a way of tricking us into feeling we need to complete everything all at once. If we can be reminded that this is an illusion, we will have greater ease in creating time for creativity. Creativity is essential to encountering the fullness of spiritual well-being.
Emotional Well-Being: “All You Need Is [Still] Love”
Marianne Williamson, celebrated author and lecturer, writes that the opposite of fear is love. “We have been brought up in a world that does not put love first, and where love is absent, fear sets in… It’s a terrible absence of what we need in order to survive” (Williamson, 2012, p. 22). We cannot underestimate the centering, transformative, purposing power of love in our daily lives. In each of our resolutions, perhaps we can include love; love for our bodies, love for our minds, love for those we share our lives with. Letting love grow into every small detail of our lives is perhaps the most paramount of steps to a fully enjoyed life. If it has been a while since we have felt love, we can start small by practicing gratitude. In all of these things, it is important to be compassionate and patient as we address these areas of our blessed lives. Try not to lose heart if results are not seen within the expected timeline. Deep, lasting change takes time and tends to be cyclical. So breathe… and take small steps daily towards truly enjoying life to the fullest. Good luck, and Happy New Year!
M.A., LMFT-Associate, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Dr. Amy Fuller, LMFT-S, LPC-S
Williamson, M. (2012). A return to love: Reflections on the principles of a course in miracles. New York, NY: HarperOne.
NEW YEARS RESOLUTION STATISTICS – Statistic Brain. 2013 Statistic Brain Research Institute, publishing as Statistic Brain. JANUARY 1, 2014 http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/