Gratitude: My Number One Focus for 2012

A few things I'm grateful for:  Cleopatra Schwartz (cutest, sweetest dog in the world), my door turned headboard, my new king-sized pillows I got for Christmas, and my beautiful new accent pillow.

I love New Years, and new beginnings, and resolutions, and list making.  I love all those things, even though most of my resolutions over the years have been abandoned before Valentine's Day, but my innate optimism keeps me convinced that one year, they will all stick.

One reason I am convinced that they will is that my resolutions have changed over the years:  I no longer crave the material things I once did, and I now know that while I do always enjoy losing weight, life 20 pounds lighter isn't really all that different, so my list no longer includes things like dieting, giving up chocolate, or saving for an i-pad.  However, I do firmly believe that we are given what we truly want and truly ask for, so I am conscious of spending some time and thinking about what I'd like the universe to share with me.  And this year, what I want more than any thing is to enjoy my life fully, especially the little things that are so often overlooked. 
I'm also thankful for sunny days, and thoughtful friends like Valorie who gave me the fabric for my  cafe curtains.  I'm also grateful that after reading that Katherine Ireland doesn't care if towels match or not in her French vacation home, I've decided that matching towels are so bougsie, and that I'm too BoHo for that anyway.

Somehow lately, even with the good things that have happened to me in the past year, I seem to be in such a pissy mood---irritated with not receiving more blessings, exhausted with the daily grind, always wanting more...things, usually.  In short, I realized that while 2011 was a much better year for me in every conceivable way than the past few (2008 and 2009  especially rank among my worst years ever), I enjoyed so little of it.  And face it, now is all we really have.  My grandmother loved the song "One Day at a Time," and I've always found these lines so meaningful:

Yesterday's gone, Sweet Jesus,
And Tomorrow may never be mind.

So my overreaching goal for this year, and the next is to learn to enjoy as much as possible of every moment---to learn, if possible, to enjoy the daily chores of life because they are in fact a blessing.  Let's face it, if coming home to a dirty house, a pile of laundry, and a hungry spouse who wants you to feed them is your big problems----you've got it pretty good.  Anyway, I've decided that my first step to enjoying life more is to learn to appreciate my blessings more, starting with the little things.
I'm grateful for a cozy reading nook, time to read, and parents who taught me the value and joy of a good book.

So, here goes my resolutions for 2012:
1. Express gratitude daily, through a gratitude journal, prayer, meditation, thank you notes, or a combination.
2.  Focus my thoughts and action on plenty and abundance in all areas, including spiritual, not just material     ones.
3.  Blog more.
4.  Make peace with my weight.  I either want to end this year with losing the extra 20 or not caring---I'm just tired of caring about them, but not being able to do anything with them---I'm just asking for the strength to either eat my cake and wear it proudly or for the strength to not eat my cake and wear smaller pants.  I am, however, tired of eating my cake and then feeling awful about not wearing smaller pants---that way lies madness.
5.  Daily keep in mind these suggestions for increased happiness:

      1.        Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in        value.        Kinda cool right?  So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness.  And that’s without having to go out and buy anything.  It makes sense.  We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.
2.        Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism.  No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it.  She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life.  People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.
3.       Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous.  If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority.  Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out!  If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made.  What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place.  If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
4.       Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain.  (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.)  Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside.  What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness.  How extraordinary is that?  Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on.  A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin.  Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.
5.       Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships.  Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely?  WHOA!  There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with.  We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.
6.       Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character.  Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable.  Forrest Gump knows the deal.  It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan.  It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.
7.       Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being.  You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion.  When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system.  You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.
8.       Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.  It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task.  Action and awareness are merged.  You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional.  You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing.  Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.
9.       Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy.  It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences.  When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic.  It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
10.    Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force.  Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere.  When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing.  Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.
11.     Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us.  We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever.  It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists.  Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”
12.    Take care of your body. – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be.  If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected.  Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft?  Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.

list by Sonja Lyubomirsky at Marc and Angel originally seen at habitually chic and pve

I'm also grateful that I can afford (at least occasionally) fresh flowers.

Well, that's my resolution list as it stands now.  It's early yet, so I'm sure there will be tweeking, which I plan on sharing.  To all of you who made resolutions, good luck.

1 comment:

Laura Casey Interiors said...

Happy New Year! Best of luck keeping to all of your resolutions - I am with you that it is so much more practical and realistic to set obtainable goals, like being grateful for sunny days and not matching towels! All the best,