With all the uncertainty in the world today, why not take time to make your 2018 positive and uplifting. It’s not trite to set New Year's intentions, especially if they make your life brighter.
I've recently been doubly reminded of the need to be the best I can. Living in southern California, my little town of Santa Barbara narrowly escaped the raging Thomas wildfire. There is nothing like being caught up in a natural disaster to be reminded of the fragility of life and be grateful for the humanity of others. All in our community are thankful to those firefighters and law enforcement men and women who lay down their lives for the safety of others.
In approaching resolutions, it's beneficial to step back and reflect on what we've learned and accomplished during the previous year. Be sure to do this, and keep looking until you come up with something you are proud of.
Setting Intentions and Goals
With that in mind, it's easier to set some intentions and goals for the coming year. The idea is to shift your attention away from your shortcomings, bad decisions and behaviors, and just focus on making yourself, your best self. Your ambitions don't have to be earthshaking, but should reflect how you'd like to grow towards your potential in the near future.
For me, it's asking myself, "What will bring me more joy, love, and peace for 2018?" I pose this question because all that is positive in life revolves around these three emotions. They are also the polar opposites of sadness, anger, and fear. Additionally, I've learned that I have the power to create more joy, love, and peace by what I think, speak, and act.
Here are some suggestions for ways to create your new reality. I’ve also noted what emotion each enlivens.
- Lavish praise on myself for what I do and who I am. (Joy -- honoring myself). This combats the tendency to compare oneself to the wonderful things others may know or accomplish. This can take the form of appreciating myself at the end of the day as well as whenever I notice I'm subtly, or not so subtly, belittling myself.
- Vigilantly combat my negative judgments of others by looking for the positive. (Love -- honoring others and situations). Find something good in what they wear, say, or do. There has to be some positive thing I can substitute to counter my trashy thinking. The goal is to find commonality, not to accentuate our differences. This lovely practice expands our hearts.
- Voice an appreciation in every interaction. (Love -- focusing on our connection and similarities). This is a corollary to number two. Saying something positive isn't being a Pollyanna but merely an opportunity to uplift myself and others. It feels good to be the sender as well as being the recipient. Giving voice to what you appreciate is an exercise to build positivity and good will.
- Don't offer unsolicited advice. (Love -- offering respect for and acknowledging that everyone is on his or her own path). Sharing my "wisdom" is rarely received as I intended. I've learned (but sometimes forget) that I must ask for and receive permission before imparting my two cents to others. Otherwise, my sage advice lands with a thud since I'm out of my own territory. My goal is to feel more joy, love, and peace.
- Procrastinate less. (Peace and joy -- I'm respecting myself, spending less time in my head, and taking care of business). If I know deep within that I'm called to do something or assume a responsibility; then I just do it. I waste less time battling myself mentally. If there is a call to make, pick up the phone. It won't get any easier tomorrow.
- Speak up when it matters. (Joy -- being true to myself and participating in life). Being passive and letting situations unfold in ways that don’t resonate or feel productive will eventually leave you feeling angry and or sad. When I don't chime in, I notice I withdraw from the interaction. If speaking up is difficult, just gulp and take the leap. You can always preface what you say with… "This is hard for me and …"
- Set modest guidelines for exercise and eating. (Joy -- respecting myself by listening to my inner voice). It is a proven fact that feeding and moving the body increases health and feelings of wellbeing. Maybe just limit the amount of coffee, wine, ice cream, or chocolate you eat in a day. Try making it a priority to go for a walk every other day. Listen to and respect your body.
- Live in the present. (Peace -- experiencing the wonder of being alive and just breathing). This could take the form of daily meditation, chanting, or just spending less time in my head. I will stay out of the past and the future and spend more time feeling grateful for what's right in front of me now.
- Check-in with my intuition. (Joy and Peace -- following my inborn sense of what I know deep down is right for me). If and when I’m uncertain about a given course of action, I will pause, breathe, and ask within (not ask my mind) what I know when I'm quiet and still. This can be used whether it is accepting an invitation for a social activity, taking a job offer, leaving a relationship, or finding a new living situation; no matter how large or small the question.
- Forgive transgressors. (Peace, Love, and Joy -- letting go and moving forward with a full heart -- honoring yourself and others). If someone has wronged you this year, seek to truly walk in their shoes and remember we are all just doing our best. After doing your inward work, which includes seeing your part and your lessons, determine what if anything you need to do to fully resolve the issue at hand and do it. See if you can make it all the way back to love.
Just A Few Things At A Time
Please keep in mind that it’s counterproductive to set too many goals. It's easier to stay focused on a couple of things rather than overwhelm yourself with too many good intentions. You can try using your intuition to choose what feels best for you.
I suggest you write your intentions on paper or your favorite electronic device and on the first day of each month, review and remind yourself of them. Focusing on two or three gems throughout the year will definitely help brighten your 2018 and keep you moving in your desired direction. I hope you’ll join me in bringing more light and positivity to our world.
©2017 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.
Book by this Author
Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
With practical tools, real-life examples, and everyday solutions for thirty-three destructive attitudes, Attitude Reconstruction can help you stop settling for sadness, anger, and fear, and infuse your life with love, peace, and joy.
About the Author
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/
* Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace
* Watch video: Shiver to Express Fear Constructively (with Jude Bijou)