How committed are you to joy and contentment, when it gets down to it?
The holiday season is over, the wrapping paper is a memory, the decorative sugars are put away, the kitchen is in order, we are starting back into our routines.
For some of us, the holidays provided a time to deflect. The "return to normal" may feel unwelcome and stressful "Ugh, I was able to forget for a few weeks that I had all of this on my plate... where to even start?"
For others, the return to structure may feel welcome. "Thank goodness I can retreat to my quiet office so that I can complete charts that don't talk back and stay where I put them."
And others long to return to routine, but COVID has gotten in the way and is keeping them from work, keeping their children from school, keeping their friends sequestered.
However you approach the fresh start of January, it is an opportune time to turn off the technology, take a deep breath and consider:
"What makes me feel good?"
"What brings me joy and contentment?"
"What would I do if I couldn't fail?"
"How do I consistently create space for more of this in my life?"
"Why does it matter?"
Joy and contentment are the oxygen we need for breathing in and balancing the heavy lift of working, learning, creating, supporting, caring for, organizing, and stretching that we expect of ourselves.
Joy and contentment are not nice-to-haves, they are have-to-haves. You do have time for them.
Although giving these questions more than lip service is easier said than done, you might consider these four strategies and give it a whirl...
Put your phone down and close your eyes. Allow your shoulders to soften and relax. Soften your belly. Observe your breath, taking breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you slow your breathing, notice your parasympathetic nervous system engaging. Rest and digest.
Scan memories of the past year, then move even further back. Pay attention to times you felt whole and solid and in flow; who were you with? Or were you alone? Were you in the city? In nature? What were you doing? What did it sound like? What did you see around you? What about that time was replicable?
If you couldn't fail, what would you do? Now make a highlights list, and then consider mixing and matching. Take your love of books, your cat-like desire to nap in the sun, and your love of travel; stir and what do you get? Or your love of long bike rides, your desire to practice Spanish, and your love of being with close friends and what do you get? Or your love of wine making, your desire to spend one week alone each summer, and the credits you have with Delta and what do you get? Get creative, have fun. Notice what makes you smile. Remember, in this exercise you can't fail.
Commit to three things. Decide on three things you are willing to do and then put them (in ink) on your calendar. This might not be the year you take a one-on-one vacation with your daughter; but it might be the year you have a one-on-one breakfast date with her each month. Or maybe it is the year you and your daughter explore a new country. You might not read all of the National Book Award nominated books; but you might commit to making room on your calendar to read four of them. Or maybe you combine your love of books and your desire for road trips and commit to visiting 10 independent book stores in your state. You might not take a bubble bath every night, but you might commit to taking one most Sunday evenings, with soaps that you love. Make something happen.
You can do this... and when you do, notice the difference it makes.
Actions, aligned with values, support optimal health.