How can we live in a way that opens our hearts for a better world and a more thoughtful version of ourselves, especially in a socially disconnected world? It's been a while since we were allowed to really be open with anyone outside our households, and I worry we will lose our intuitive need to be social if our lack of human connection is restricted for much longer.
I also worry about our mental health in a month where the third Monday of the month has been named 'Blue Monday' as it's thought to be the most depressing day of the year.
Nurturing ourselves is often a struggle – we are not used to reaching out and letting people know if we are not well – mentally, physically, or simply just tired. What tends to happen in our lives is the 'How are you?', 'I'm fine' dance. We all buy into the busy signals, i.e. I am too busy to be anything but fine, and you are too busy to listen, so what's the point in sharing how I really feel?
How we nurture our own seeds of truth is deeply personal. Change takes time, so make time to enable those tender new shoots of reality in your conversations to flourish. Be gentler with yourself because this weird period in time is unfamiliar territory, but remember, there is much to be gained from building better relationships with ourselves and then, through that inner relationship, with other people in our lives.
I'm trying to say that life can be a beautiful journey, a crazy ride, and a big adventure. But it can also be a living nightmare, a constant struggle, and a hard teacher.
It's all up to you.
In each moment, you choose which side of it to embrace, and that affects your mind, body and soul, your present and your future, the person you become, as well as other people in your life. If the post-Christmas blues, cold dark nights and lack of things to look forward to are leaving you feeling a little gloomy, here are some words of wisdom to encourage you to see this world for the beautiful place it is, full of opportunities, kindness, and love.
1. Let it go
You won't be able to continue your life and enjoy your days if you're stuck in memories and constantly reliving what happened a long time ago, or even last year.
Free yourself from the burden of the past by letting go. We often hold onto mistakes made in relationships, things we said when we were angry, or decisions we made that led us up the wrong path.
However, each of those things can offer a lesson on how to move forward. Now that you know what not to do let the lessons lead you toward something better.
Meditation is a great way to overcome harmful reliving of the past. Try sneaking in a few minutes of meditation each day to stop the gloomy trips down memory lane. Instead, focus on memories that bring you joy and make you smile.
2. Don't take things to heart
We tend to overthink every little detail of our days. We think life is unfair when something bad happens.
But we shouldn't take most of these personally. People leave, argue, or are mean because they have their own problems, are misunderstood, or just don't need you anymore. It's not your fault.
You make mistakes and fail, yes. And the beauty of it is that you get to try again, more experienced and confident this time. Learn to look at challenges with a sense of humour and a lightness of heart that will allow you to overcome them and move on more quickly.
3. Keep it simple
In today's world, it's easy to overdo it, to buy too much, overeat, spend too much on that new phone they just released, or work too much.
Get rid of some of the things cluttering your house, speak less so that you can listen more, eat less or healthier, and dress more simply.
Eliminate the people in your life that only burden you with negativity, because you don't need them. Shorten your to-do list by focusing on the essential things you have to do and ditch everything else that only keeps you busy. With lockdowns forcing us to be more grounded at home, take some time to think about what you've really missed, and what you have enjoyed no longer having to do because you were scared to say no.
By cutting back on areas where you feel you can, you can create space for your hobbies, passions, and the important people in your life. Ultimately, you'll find that you don't miss most of that extra 'stuff'.
4. An attitude of gratitude
Grateful people live great lives.
They are thankful each day for what they have and are so much happier because they focus on the people they love, the opportunities that are everywhere around them, the things they enjoy doing, the time they have, the place they live in, and the friends that surround them.
Being grateful doesn't mean being happy all the time. It simply means that you can recognise that things will get better during hard times and that you will come out on the other side. It means you can see the good when others can't and that your positive outlook spreads through most of life's challenges.
If you're not great at gratitude, don't worry! There are simple ways to get started. The easiest is to start a gratitude journal. Start by writing just three things each day that you were grateful for. These could include people you talked to, a positive experience you had, or a gift you received.
5. Spend less time worrying about the future
By continually thinking about what might happen, you miss out on the present moment, which is where life is happening.
We worry about tomorrow, fearing something terrible might happen. We try to predict it, we prepare for everything, and we try to plan our days. However, most things in life just happen, and the only thing we can do is enjoy it to the fullest and make the best of it.
Life is full of surprises, and that's a good thing. By expecting the worst to happen, you complicate life and make it hard. So let go of all those worries and the need to control and predict everything.
Work first on relaxation techniques, including practising your favourite hobby, baking, yoga, or meditation. These will get your mind pulled back into the present, and after some practice, it will become second nature.
6. Choose to be kind
Be kind to everyone you meet. No matter how they treat you, you can always be polite, smile, and offer help.
Indeed, we often blame someone's bad mood on a flaw in their personality, but most of the time they are simply having a bad day. Maybe they just had their heartbroken, lost a loved one, lost their job, or just received a serious medical diagnosis. What they need more than anything is a kind word or a smile, and you can easily give it to them.
Once you start offering kindness, you'll be surprised by how quickly it is returned to you. Not only will you improve someone else's day, but you'll find that you feel better in return.
Make it a goal to say one kind thing to someone each day. This could include sending a nice text to your mom, complimenting a friend's outfit, or telling a joke to the person behind you in the supermarket queue to make him/her laugh. Whatever it is, just keep it kind.
Before I go ...
Learning how to live a good life can be difficult when the world is full of complications and negative news. However, by starting with these six choices, you can turn your perspective around and start living each day more positively.
Learning to live within our own energetic capabilities is considered wisdom in Chinese medicine.