How much do you know about yourself? I know you are familiar with your likes and dislikes, your pet peeves and hobbies and even your real hair color. But how well do you know the deepest parts of you, the fascinating and intimate part of your psyche or your complicated but beautiful heart?
Getting to know yourself is one of life’s most thrilling and worthwhile endeavors, and the only real path to a whole life. So many of us don’t want to go down this path, don’t want to dig deep. But as a new year has begun, I thought I would share 4 simple but intense questions for you to ponder. I want 2018 to be the best year of your life. No resolutions – just discovery. Despite the fact that some of us need a few tweaks but others of us could use an entire overhaul – I’d like you to take baby steps to a new you.
Are you ready to learn more about who you really are? I hope you discover things about yourself that are remarkable and rewarding!
Take some time to really think about your answers…
1. Do I have enough fun?
Fun is necessary. It delivers oxygen to the soul. You really need to add fun in to your life but straining to do so misses the point. Planning is the death of fun. That doesn’t mean you stop trying to arrange it or coax it into being. (It’s a bit like planning a wedding. My daughter is getting married this September and we all agreed that the last thing we would do is to turn a joyous party in to a yearlong gauntlet of debt, drama and anxiety.) So in my opinion, arranging fun is a distraction. Watching TV, sharing stories during happy hour with your work buddies and shopping are all satisfying activities but they are not the fun I am talking about!
Fun is about living in the moment. It’s the result of our willingness to be open to spontaneity; fun finds us when it wants to and our job is to be ready. When both my daughters were home for the holidays, a song came on from their childhood. We all just looked at each other and started to dance uncontrollably just like we did when they were 3 and 5 years old. Swinging, dipping, twirling each other and laughing so hard we couldn’t stop. I don’t know what happened but we all had the same reaction when the song came on and it was so spontaneous and FUN! Our significant others had no idea what came over us, but they were laughing and moving to the music too. We forgot about the dinner we were preparing, the cell phones we were glancing at and everything else in that moment.
We must make room for joy whenever it decides to show its mischievous face. And we must do this consistently and indefinitely. Or to quote one of my favorite authors and the master of fun, Dr. Seuss: “Today is gone, today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”
2. Am I waiting for my real life to begin?
Sometimes we live our lives waiting. When you ask yourself what you are waiting for, I’d love for you to really take some time with this one.
Do you know that this is your real life? I can share that in my twenties, I always imagined that after I finished college or once I got a great job or once I found the right guy and got married or once I had kids etc. then I could start to really live my life. And then in my thirties it was once I went back to work after my kids got a little older or when I started juicing I‘ll be healthy etc. And only just a few years ago it was when I start to exercise on a regular basis, sleep more, wake earlier etc. – you get the idea. What does yours sound like?
Rather than stretching toward change or initiating growth, I somehow got into the habit of depending on a future date. But after much personal growth work and meditation in recent years, I came to the realization that we live life moment by moment. This (right now) is the only moment that is important. We never even know if we will get the next moment. So start living your life now. This is your real life. This is it. We can’t wait for our life to begin because our life never just begins but rather is always there waiting for us to begin to join it.
3. Do I feel my feelings?
Maybe you can experience levity enough to laugh, embarrassment enough to blush and irritation enough to complain. But maybe the sadder, angrier, uglier stuff you drown out or deny. Hmmm…
Maybe there are some feelings that are too big, too loud, too unwieldy, and too undignified to even consider thinking about because it just hurts too much. So, you lock those feelings away. You tell yourself you have a life and there’s no room for the wounded or enraged. You also find that you can’t bear to be still or relax because then you start to think. Everything is OK… and soon all that anger, hurt and grief retreat.
Suppressing our feelings does not make them go away. Our bodies still feel them. When we try to overly control our emotions, it can have serious consequences. When we avoid our feelings, we tune out important clues as to who we are. We limit our capacity for self-understanding and fail to fully experience or shape our lives.
Be in communication with yourself. They say talking to yourself is a sign of intelligence!
4. Have I made peace with my past?
The past is there to serve us so that we can learn. Once it’s over, there is nothing else to gain from it. Many of us live in the past – reliving over and over again, unfortunate events, trauma, etc. Make peace with your past. Let it go. We can’t change it, so we accept and move on.
Letting go can be difficult. Letting go of people, ideas, expectations, desires; letting go of bad habits, false beliefs and unhealthy relationships… the list goes on. Every day, every moment presents an opportunity to create ourselves anew, to shrug off the baggage of the past, open ourselves up to the possibility of the moment and take action to create an incredible future.
Although we can understand this intellectually, knowing it and living it are two very different things. Here are a few suggestions to get going on letting go:
a. Meditate. Find stillness, breathe. Our mind is much harder to still than our body. Our lives are busy and fast paced, filled with external noise and distractions. Clarity comes from quiet. Meditation, even in small amounts, will create space for new possibilities – the future (not the past).
b. Understand. Take time to reflect on your own history as a third party looking in without judgment: simply observe. Understand that you are not your past. Understand that the situations and patterns and people in your life created your experiences, they didn’t create you. Knowing and understanding your past and some of your patterns will help you to recognize why you hold on and repeat self-destructive behaviors. Understanding creates awareness; awareness helps you break the cycle.
c. Accept. Accept your history and the people that have been a part of your history; accept your circumstances and remember that none of these define you. Acceptance is the first step to letting go and setting yourself free.
Have a happy, healthy, fulfilled 2018!