Has anyone else noticed how quickly 2017 flew by? So much happened this year, it feels like a whirlwind!
Recently, I got the idea to write out a list of high points from this year so I could take a moment and appreciate the year's unfolding. This was a great exercise and I highly recommend it. It's easy to be so busy during the year that we don't appreciate life as it's happening. Taking the time to reflect on forgotten moments and all the things we accomplished is a lovely way to show appreciation to ourselves and the world we live in.
As I was writing out my list, I was reminded of some really cool things that I had completely forgotten about. To have the opportunity to bring those things into my awareness and express gratitude for them was a beautiful way to re-experience my year.
Whether you keep a journal or write out your list on a piece of paper, grab your pen and start writing. List out trips, events you attended, books you've read, interesting people you've met or reconnected with, classes you've taken, what you've done for self-care, you get the idea. Things you've done or started in 2017 go onto the list. Realizations, surprises, big things/little things... If you do keep a journal, go back through its pages.
Once your list feels relatively complete, take some time to reflect on how the year may have ended differently from how you thought it would play out last January. Any surprises? Were there moments that you had forgotten about?
I personally loved this exercise because it showed me how some of my interests intensified, altered, or went in a totally different direction over the course of the year. Equally interesting is that even though I thought the year might proceed in a certain way, the combination of new learning, relationships, and ideas created a year of new possibilities that I really could not imagine back in January. Life is like that, but often I think we get so engrossed in our day to day that we don't step back and take in the bigger, richer picture.
2017 was a fast moving and eventful year in so many ways. Through this exercise, I am hopeful for a robust 2018. I hope the same is true for you.
Gratitude is often seen as the key to well-being and happiness.
Whether expressing gratitude by writing in a gratitude journal or by reminiscing about gratitude, being aware of the ways we are grateful benefits us and the world we live in.
I love writing in my gratitude journal because it reminds me of how fortunate I am even when times are tough. Some of the things I'm grateful for are seemingly quite small but still have a big impact because everything is significant.
When we are in gratitude for those things that pass in and out of our lives, we can open to the love of all that is. We can start to see those things that cause pain or hardship as one aspect of our life, not the only aspect. And gratitude allows us to be in a moment of loving reflection for the positive.
For example, paying bills can be a hardship sometimes, but being grateful for the food that nourishes us, the heat in our homes, and the gas in our cars that those bills represent can flip writing a check to the credit card company from an experience of pain to a practice of gratitude. An interesting experiment is to one by one review each item on your credit card bill, recall the item, and express gratitude for it. How has this item made your life better? How would life be without it? Whenever I have done this exercise, I have so much gratitude for each item that paying the bill becomes an act of gratitude.
I invite you to start a gratitude journal where you can see and reflect on what you have in your life to be grateful for. Start off by listing out 10 things that you are grateful for from the day before. Continue with that for a couple of weeks and then write out 2 or 3 things each day and expand on them with a few sentences. You might find that you want to write a few paragraphs! Some studies show that writing in a gratitude journal 2 or 3 times a week might be more beneficial than every day. Do what feels right for you.
Having a practice of being in gratitude can be life changing. There is so much to be grateful for and a regular gratitude practice can help us become aware of the beauty in our lives and not just the hardship. If gratitude is the key to well-being and happiness, it seems that it's worth trying.
We’ve all been tempted by foods that we know don’t support our health and wellness goals. I know I’ve had some pretty interesting conversations with myself which have sometimes led to full blown arguments about why I should be able to eat that chocolate cake when I know full well that the sugar has a negative effect on my body.
One question I ask myself that seems to help put a fairly abrupt end to the argument is, "Does this food support my health and wellness goals?"
So for instance, if I'm standing in front of the fridge and want to dive into leftover dessert, I ask myself "does this serving of dessert support my health?" If the answer is "you could do better" or a simple “no”, then there you go! Short, sweet, and empowering!
This same question works if you are scouting about looking for a late-night snack. "Does this snack support my health?" Or what about wanting to hang out and watch TV rather than go for a walk, "Does sitting on the couch support my health and wellness goals?" "Does skipping lunch support my health?" You get the idea.
If you were to instead say, “It’s okay for me to have a piece of cake this one time don’t you think?” then you’ve just given the mind permission to think of all kinds of reasons why it’s okay. Until you eat it. And then the mind starts in with all the reason you should not have eaten the cake creating that well known downward spiral.
The reason asking the question “does this food support my health” works is because you're asking yourself a question that doesn’t allow for an emotional response. You're not asking a debatable question, you're simply asking a question that cuts right to the essence of what you want to know. It’s allowing you to be in partnership with your body and work together toward a desired goal – your health.
Keep in mind as well that I’m not suggesting that it’s never good to eat dessert or sit on the couch. There are times when these are perfectly okay things to do and when you ask the question, the response you receive will inform you accordingly. There is no right or wrong here, only opportunities for growth and learning.
Try asking yourself the question and pay attention to how you act based on the response you get. Be mindful of your actions and be open to learning about yourself!