To help you begin the New Year with optimism and focus.
2020 is a year we will never forget. I know I never will. It is stamped on my memory, and stories will be told about it for years to come. I imagine you feel the same way.
Most of us experienced loss in one form or the other. We may have lost jobs, businesses, our health, or even loved ones. We may be confronted with guilt, and/or grief.
One thing is for sure, our lives changed. We transformed our behavior, either by choice or compulsion.
We are in a position to move forward with these changes. We’ve been handed the unique opportunity to tweak the dynamics of our personality and actions. The interplay of communication within ourselves and between others.
Therefore, I compiled a list of 5 questions to ask. Let us commence with the searching of our souls.
1. Why am I here?
Three-quarters of people today think about this question regularly. So you are not alone.
Humans are in a global search mode for meaning. We can ask this question in one of two ways.
The first question is in reference to our existence here on earth. Do our lives matter in the larger scheme of things? Is there an intention for us?
Do we have a role to play in the narrative of life? Or are we random bytes/bits of information?
I believe there is a purpose for me. And you. Otherwise, what’s it all for? Are we born only to die? Or do we live on?
I know these are a long series of questions to answer the first one of, why am I here? But we have to consider all the possible scenarios. Right?
The second part of this question is, What are we doing here, right now? It could be at this moment, in this place.
For example, why am I at the doctor’s office? Is it because of unhealthy eating habits that led me to a test for pre-diabetes?
What can I do differently to ensure healthy test levels? How can I change my eating habits?
I have faced all these situations. Both parts of this big question will have a significant impact on my life. On to question #2.
2. What do I want to change about myself?
This question depends on our answers to the first one. It is all about goals. We can make a plan to determine tasks-goals-mission statement. But not in that order.
To begin, you can have more than one mission statement. It is specific to what you want to accomplish. (I’m very analog so I write my plan in pencil on poster board.)
For example, say, my mission is to test blood sugar levels at 120. I start in the upper-right-corner and pencil in (sentence case) my mission statement. You have to make it measurable:
To test my A1C levels (3-month test) at 120 or below for the next 6 months.
Next is to take actionable steps. For example, this may take the form of:
I will monitor my blood sugar levels daily.
The last piece of your plan are the tasks. For example, compile a diabetic diet. Research what is best for you. Make it enjoyable because if it is not, you are doomed to fail. Also, remember, your health is at stake.
I will follow the doctor’s instructions and will eat according to the diabetic diet.
This may seem oversimplified, but it works. Over 42% of people who wrote their goals are more likely to accomplish them. Writing, seeing, and reading activates both hemispheres of the brain to work together to meet your goals.
3. Is it more important to love or be loved?
Hmm. Your initial response may be to love, of course. But is it? Let’s think about this question for a moment.
We all want to have someone to love and someone to love us. This is basic human nature. It is in our DNA. Scientists finally discovered what we already knew about love and gave it a name.
Oxytocin has taken on the moniker of the love hormone. It is a hormone produced in the brain that has positive effects on social behavior, emotions, and attachments to other people. Love makes us happy. It makes me think of the song lyric, I’m love-struck, baby.
That being said, we all want to feel love. But to love others, we must first love ourselves.
According to the UCSC CAPS blog: it’s important to love yourself because of the simple truth that you cannot take care of others until you take care of yourself first. When you fully love yourself, this gives you the opportunity to move through the world with deeper compassion for others.
Meanwhile, I developed a mental exercise to help me love myself when I feel unworthy, guilty, or bitter. In my imagination, I go to my Garden of Fruit Trees. This is comprised of a garden with rows of trees already planted and rows ready to receive the seeds of the fruit.
For example, when I am angry at everything and everybody, I go to my garden and imagine I am pulling up roots and rocks of anger. In the space left open, I plant the opposite, which is joy. Over time, the plant will grow into a fruit tree. When I need joy, I go pluck a joy fruit.
That metaphor may seem silly to you, but it works for me. I’ve been doing cultivating my garden for years and, sometimes, joy will bubble up from out of nowhere. This tells me my garden is fruitful and prosperous.
4. What can I do for myself today?
Considering you’ve answered previous questions, it is time to do something for yourself today. Right now. Get a pen and paper. Ask yourself the question.
What is the first thing that pops into your head? Think, quick! Write it down before it disappears. Do that one thing. If you cannot do it right away, stop and do the following.
Take a deep breath in through your nose, exhale slowly through your mouth. The intake of oxygen through nasal breathing stimulates your brain and helps you to focus.
It’s that simple. Make these suggestions a daily habit. Take deep breaths and do one thing for yourself. Even if it is a tiny, teeny one thing. It may surprise you how happy you’ll become.
5. What can I do for others today?
My entire life I’ve heard the old saying, there is more joy in giving than receiving. I know this to be true. The feeling of elation you receive when you give someone a gift is priceless.
Especially, if it is a secret gift, or a gift to someone that is depressed or lonely, or in need. The look on their face pulls my heart into joy.
You may plant seeds that will affect them for years to come. You can volunteer at nursing homes, homeless shelters, or domestic violence hotlines. Go online to research facilities in your locale.
There are numerous other ways to give, as well. What causes pull on your heartstrings? Is it feeding children, saving abandoned animals, or suicide prevention? The United Way is a great resource for agencies in need.
Well, there you have it. 5 big questions to ask yourself in 2021. Every year is a gift to us. This is my gift to you! To help you start the new year with optimism and a clear focus.
Happy New Year!