With the inception of every new year, people love talking about resolutions – ways they can make improvements in the coming year. I’m not one of these people. When it’s time for change or improvement, I believe that now is as good a time as any to start. Simone de Beauvoir said, “Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future. Act now, without delay”. She was right. Why wait until a brand new year to make life better for yourself? Every day is chance to begin again. In fact, everyday we do begin again, don’t we?
But now that 2014 is well underway, I thought I might share my own personal promises, reminders, and intentions that guide me daily and help me live better. Let’s call them daily resolutions.
Make time to move.
Move. Every day. Even if it’s just taking a walk. We all know that physical activity is good for you so I won’t even bother listing the benefits. For me, movement usually means yoga, dance, riding my bike, or taking a walk or hike, depending on where I am. I don’t really have a constant routine because my schedule and location change often. But I try to make time to move even if it’s just a short walk and a stretch. It makes me feel good.
Make time to be still.
This is a tough one. Being still is hard for people, including myself at times. But it is so worth taking the time for stillness and meditation, even if it’s just 5 minutes a day to start. If you’re not convinced, here are some of the proven benefits of meditation:
- It provides relief from stress and anxiety;
- It helps you focus;
- It develops creativity;
- It improves memory;
- It boosts the immune system;
- It reduces pain (physical and emotional);
- It lowers blood pressure;
- Apparently, it even makes you look younger and healthier.
Generally, many of us make money only to spend it on things that just add to the clutter in our lives, without adding to our overall wellbeing. The Japanese concept of shibumi is the belief in the beauty and sophistication of simplicity. In my case, living a nomadic life for many years has forced me to cull down to only what I can pack into a couple of bags. This decluttering process is something that, for me, has been necessary from my own wellbeing. I had accumulated a lot of “stuff” which was distracting me from living with more purpose and clarity. It is incredibly freeing to realize how little I actually need.
Be grateful for what you have.
Being a witness to poverty – and I mean REAL poverty – all over the world hits a nerve. How can I not be grateful for all the abundance in my life? Coming face to face with people who have much less than I do (in the material ways we normally think about wealth and abundance), yet are so full of joy and generosity, makes you wonder what truly makes us happy. Eckhart Tolle says, “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance”. Gratitude makes you realize how abundant your life already is.
Spend less time online.
I don’t own a smartphone. Neither does my husband. We might be the only people who don’t these days. I used to be one of those people – phone in hand at all times. But there came a point when I realized how much this was distracting me from being present. Yes, these devices have their purpose but, sadly, rather than using their phones only when necessary, so many people choose to be with their devices instead of being with the people they are actually with at that moment. In other words, it seems that the more connected we are, the less connected we become.
This video says it all (plus she’s Asian – probably Filipino – so this really speaks to me):
Being present is being aware and engaged. It means paying attention to what’s happening around you and within you. Lao Tzu said, “If you are depressed you are living in the past; if you are anxious you are living in the future; if you are at peace you are living in the present”. I’ll take peace, thank you.
Live life with wonder.
Wonder is the beginning of wisdom. ~Socrates
As children, we are constantly filled with wonder. Sadly, as we get older, our sense of wonder is replaced with practicality, doubt, cynicism and skepticism. But what if we chose to approach life with the same awe we experienced as children? How different life would be. I am constantly amazed at what life brings, almost on a daily basis. This awe and wonder causes me to keep seeking and exploring. My life may be a bit too exotic and adventurous for some. But if you pay more attention to the little things in your own life, you’ll quickly discover that it’s the simple and most obvious things that can fill us with wonder.
People are incredibly wasteful – all over the world, rich and poor, people are wasteful. In different ways, yes. But wasteful nonetheless. Mostly, this comes from not knowing better or understanding the consequences of one’s actions. Amazing projects like Zero Waste Home and No Impact Man have really influenced my own habits. Being aware of how your actions affect the rest of the community and environment and the larger world affects the decisions you make in your daily life. I’ve become very aware of how much I use and try to use less as best as I can – by buying less, making less garbage, and being mindful of my own energy consumption.
Whenever possible, eat local. Whenever possible, eat organic. Whenever possible, eat non-GMO. Don’t eat processed foods. Eat your veggies. Eat with gratitude. Eat in the company of friends and loved ones. That’s eating well.
Get enough sleep.
Dear sleep, I know we had problems when I was younger, but I love you now.
During my teens and 20s, I was a fatigued sleep-deprived insomniac with serious FOMO. It’s been a long journey of learning to relax, unwind, and let go of certain desires, but gifting myself with more sleep has drastically improved my waking hours. I am more alert and functional, less irritable and anxious. I actually feel awake during the day. I rarely use an alarm clock anymore. I don’t need one. I try to give myself 8 hours of bed time. So I go to sleep to allow for that. Seriously, sleeping has changed my life.
It’s common knowledge that some of the leading causes of death in the western developed world are largely preventable through behavior change. But instead of waiting until January 1 to make drastic changes to your life, what if you shifted your resolution-making to today, without any judgment of the outcome. My daily reminders are just that – reminders. Sometimes I think of them and sometimes I don’t. However, when any of them do occur to me, implementing them in some way does make me feel better that day. And it’s these small daily shifts that make all the difference.