This is a time of year when a lot of people are reflecting on how great the past year was, and setting their intentions and making plans for a great year to come. Well … I’ll be honest, 2013 was not my favorite year. In fact it was one of the most challenging mother-effing years I’ve ever experienced. I went through more than I thought I could handle – and I handled it (sometimes even with grace, other times with tantrums).
I’m grateful that I have the tools in my life to be able to work through challenges and grow from them, and that I have a generally positive outlook on life, even when it’s a shit storm. For instance, while I was in Mexico, my spa in Portland was massively flooded. There was a ton of damage and lots of work to be done to get things repaired and running smoothly. At first I was like, “Seriously? This is the worst! I can’t even go on this much needed vacation without more crazy stress!” (Poor baby!) Within the hour I was able to change my perspective to say, “I would’ve had to deal with this no matter where I was. Lucky me that I get to do it from a warm, sunny place. And I am so eternally grateful to have an amazing team to help me.” What a shift. What a gift to give myself.
You don’t always get to control your circumstances. Natural disasters happen, loved ones die, people do things you could never have expected. But you always get to choose your point of view. This is where the real magic is – allowing life to happen and constantly doing your best to frame it in a way that feels good, or useful, or even joyful.
Life is messy and brilliant and surprising. Allow it to be. Stop resisting life. – Tweet it
I love setting goals, working toward them, and achieving them. It’s part of my basic constitutional makeup. So, yes, I set my goals for 2014 back in October. I’ve planned out my year to achieve them, and I’ve got a team on board. (Let me know if you’re interested in finding out about my process and perhaps I’ll blog about it next week ;).) I’m a crazy manifestor and love to make things happen, and teach others to do the same.
But, after a year like 2013 I’ve realized that there is something more important to me than achieving goals and making things happen, and that’s using the tools and skills that I’ve gathered to maintain a positive outlook, stay present, and be grateful.
I know, I know it can be frustrating to hear people say, “Be positive,” especially when you’re feeling particularly crappy. But, don’t write it off. If you have no practice choosing positivity, it can be challenging. It’s like having a masters degree in sitcom watching and then expecting yourself to get up and run a marathon. Not. Going. To . Happen. Especially if you happen to have a terrible cold that day.
This is often the space we’re in when we get the “crappy” advice of being positive. We’re already down in the dumps, stressed out, and likely crying. And if we haven’t worked the muscles of positivity, it’s difficult to flex them hard when we need to. You have to practice when it’s easy, pay attention, and consciously choose a positive state.
Here are five ways to cultivate positivity:
• Practice gratitude. There are things in your life that are good, things that are working, people that love you. Focus on these at least two times a day. I like to say it out loud, “I’m so glad that….” and then fill in the blank. Writing it down in a journal every day is also a great way to remind yourself of what is already awesome.
• Bring amplified awareness to even the smallest bits of joy, happiness, and warmth. Feel it in your body, and imagine absorbing it into your lower belly or “dan tien.” (This is a region in the center of the belly, about two inches below your navel, which is considered to be a sort of “cauldron” where energy is stored and anchored in the art of Qi Gong.) For example, if you notice the sun warming your face in a way that feels good, capture that moment, close your eyes and dive deeper into your appreciation of that experience.
• Make your what ifs good. Often we “what if…” in a negative way: What if I fail? What if I never get better? What if she hates me? What if this doesn’t work out?
Instead, practice whatiffing (new word!) in a positive way: What if this turns out even better than I expected? What if I lose 5 pounds without trying? What if I find the perfect mate tonight? What if I wake up tomorrow feeling awesome?
• Hang out with other positive people. When you hang out with people who are happy and looking on the bright side of things, they’re not into Negative Nancies, so you’ll likely play positive by peer pressure. Who you surround yourself with makes a huge difference. A few great friends that stay on the sunny side are better than a gaggle of grouches.
• Clear blockages that stop you from experiencing your full delight in life. I find Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT – and other tapping techniques) to be super effective in moving through emotional baggage that is holding me down.
For 2014, my focus is going to be to do more of this, get stronger positivity muscles, allow the year to flow, and practice acceptance.
What is your focus for 2014 going to be?