It’s Not Too Late to Start Resolutions for a Better Year Ahead
We were all in such a hurry to turn the page on 2020 that many of us skipped the New Year’s resolutions this time around. As you settle into 2021, there is still plenty of time to choose mindful resolutions that will help you make the best of the continually shifting ground we are all dealing with this year. Here are some suggestions.
1. Allow Yourself to H.E.A.L.: In 2021, turn your focus toward experiencing the fullness of every beautiful, joyful, silly, fun, or wonderful experience you have. Use the H.E.A.L. method, originally created by neuroscientist Rick Hanson: Have a good experience. Enrich it to install it. Absorb it as if you are filling your body up with the good feeling of the experience. Link positive and negative material.
For the “link” step, you can do this in the moment by recalling something painful or upsetting and allowing the pleasant feelings of the present moment to replace those old feelings. You can also use this step any time you feel frustrated, upset, or angry. Call upon a positive experience you’ve installed in your brain and use it as a mindful focal point rather than ruminating on the other unwanted feelings.
2. Label Negative Emotions: Practice R.A.I.N. When you experience anger, frustration, sadness, or any other negative emotion, recognize it by saying, “Oh, that’s anger” (or whatever the emotion is) “coming up right now.” The mere mention of the emotion calms down the brain. Then allow it to be there for a few moments while you gently investigate why it’s there. Finally, nourish yourself by looking inward and asking what you need to hear or do right now to help yourself feel better.
3. Do What Gives You Joy: Life is full of emotional chaos, but bringing it back to focused activities that give joy to your soul can mean the difference between making or breaking it day to day, year to year. Take a few minutes to write down a list of everything you can think of that brings you joy — little things and big things alike — then commit to doing one thing from that list every day.
4. Get Grounded: When you feel anxiety ramping up, focus your attention downward and feel your feet on the floor. Breathe deeply, keeping your focus on the sensation of your feet (i.e., bare, in socks or shoes, whatever — feel it all, just as it is) on the floor. This is an instant tool to break the cycle of anxiety.
5. Transform Suffering Into Love (Tonglen): When you experience suffering — whether from a personal tragedy, a global event, or anything in between — use the Receiving-Sending meditation to transform that suffering into love. Breathe in the pain and sorrow; breathe out love and compassion. Breathe in the suffering; breathe out peace.
Many unknowns lie ahead on our journey, but one thing is for certain: we can face whatever comes — the joys and the sorrows — with more peace in our hearts when we take the time be mindfully aware of how we respond.