January 24, 2014

My 2014 Manifesto: 6 Practices for a Spectacular Year (& Life). ~ Candice Benson

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.”

– T.S. Elliott

2013 was a crummy year for many people in my life (myself included).

Mine was volatile, unpredictable, difficult and full of change. Out of the darkest moments spring the greatest gifts – the key is being able to walk through the fire and learn.

I learned a lot in 2013 with the help of some incredible teachers, mentors and friends who took me by the hand, I gathered some new knowledge and tools that I applied to my life.

These basic practices changed my life in a major way so I thought I’d share them in hopes they will help you too. I am determined to make 2014 my best year yet!

These are a few things I will continue to practice in my life, with a few new ones to add to the mix.

My 2014 Manifesto:

1. Practice Gratitude:

We’ve all had this one shoved down our throats for years. For one reason—it works.

This is one of the single most important principles I have learned and wow, has it created some major shifts in my life.

When we are grateful for what we already have, it puts our mind and body into a state of harmony. A state of happiness and bliss that vibrates out to those around us and brings us more.

When we focus on what we already have and are grateful for it, it attracts more of these same situations, experiences and circumstances.

I’ve tested this time and time again, and it works without fail every time.

Every time I feel my life is lacking in some way, I focus on what I do have and the things I’m desiring (or something even better) ends up showing up. Every single time.

I won’t go on and on about this because a lot of you are aware of this principle. Small, easy things you can try right now:

-Write down three to five things you’re grateful for each evening and read them again in the morning. (Reading them again in the morning is important because you are then starting your new day on a positive note and this starts attracting more positivity into your life before you’re even out of bed.)

Create a gratitude jar or box. When good things happen to you, write them down on little pieces of paper and drop them into your jar or box. At the end of the year open them all up and re-live all those awesome moments from your year.

2. Experience Stillness Daily:

We have all heard the benefits of meditation but many people really don’t understand how sitting by yourself for a period of time a day can really do that much.

We have all heard the benefits of meditation but many people really don’t understand how sitting by yourself for a period of time a day can really do that much.

A teacher once explained the importance of being still and tuning in to yourself in a very easy to understand way:

Basically our minds can be like cluttered living rooms. If we don’t take the time to clear through the junk of our thoughts and get rid of what is no longer serving us, collecting dust, or taking up space we will never have space for anything new and beautiful.

This is a simplified version of what she said, but it stuck with me.

Making space in our minds is incredibly important. When we are dealing with scattered, busy or fragmented thoughts all day, there is too much clutter and we become overwhelmed.

When we become overwhelmed, there is not a clear space for inspired thoughts, solutions or ideas to come through.

So we become frustrated. We become exhausted. We become stuck.

All that is needed for meditation is a small amount of time to be still and let the mind relax. You don’t need to sit in a strange way, do anything with your hands, chant or repeat foreign mantras. (although some forms of meditation involve this)

Essentially all you really need to do when you’re starting out is let your mind relax and focus on your breathing. Everyone can do that. Start with just five minutes and see what happens.

Even just five or ten minutes of stillness when you’re first starting out can get rid of some of that old, dusty “mind clutter” you don’t need and change everything.

When I first started I was blown away by the amount of inspired thoughts, solutions to problems that I was agonizing over for weeks, and wonderfully creative ideas started coming to me. Do some research online and see what happens.

3. Be Kind to Your Body:

Your body truly is your temple. It is where your soul resides. Worship it.

I began to really pay attention to my health over the last six months and it’s made a huge difference in my body and mind. Just by the simple act of paying attention and making small changes.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat only vegetables, abolish coffee, count calories or take all the pleasures out of your life. Simply tune into your body and pay attention to the cues it gives you.

Your body will give you clues that something isn’t quite right. I was feeling irritable, fatigued and just plain crummy all the time, so I researched food sensitivities. As it turns out I have quite a few!

Making small changes made huge changes in my mood, energy and overall wellness.

Do some research and try adding new things and try taking a few things out and see how you feel. Experimenting is fun and variety is the spice of life.

Another thing that is extremely popular right now is juicing.

It’s popular for a reason—it works! I’ve started juicing daily and my skin, hair, energy, digestion and mood have all improved dramatically.

Some other things I’m focusing on for 2014 are drinking tons of water, getting lots of rest, and being active every single day.

4. Self Care: Live for Yourself and Make Your Own Decisions:

I used to be a people pleaser. I was constantly placing more value on other people’s wishes over my own and ended up being miserable in the long run. I would do things other people wanted me to do instead of listening to myself.

Now if there’s an event I don’t want to go to, I don’t go. If I’m feeling tired and want to spend the evening in my comfy clothes writing and listening to music vs. going out, I do that instead.

I don’t feel guilty anymore.

I now know that I’m no good to anyone if I attend an event or do something with friends when I’m feeling depleted or truly wanting to do something else. I’ll only end up having a miserable time and wishing I had gone with my gut and done what I needed to do for myself.

Life way too short to be spending your time doing things that don’t match your values and what is truly important to you.

5. Experience a Moment of Bliss Daily:

You know that feeling you get when you experience something so beautiful you are almost moved to tears? It’s a pretty good feeling.

And having good feelings brings to you more good feelings in the future.

“Ananda” means “bliss” in Sanskrit. Try to incorporate a few moments of it into each day.

Try little things like playing a song that really moves you, indulge in an extra long bath, visualize achieving that goal you are working so hard towards and really feeling the joy you’ll experience when you achieve it, etc.

Little treats that make you feel really good and are just for you. When we feel joy, we attract more of it.

6. Do Something Every Day Your Future Self Will Thank You For:

This one is a biggie.

“If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a LOT of time dealing with a life you don’t want.” ~ Kevin Ngo

This quote is on my fridge and I try to live by it. I make sure I do something every day that contributes to my goals—No matter how small.

Progress, not perfection.

As long as I’m taking the steps towards my dreams, I’m happy. I make my goals and dreams a priority.

Sometimes the dishes and laundry can wait a night. Sometimes it’s worth it to say no to a night out once in a while to spend the evening working towards a goal.

After all, what can be more important than creating the life you want to live?

So these are a few things I’m making a priority for this new year. Give one or a few of them a try and let me know how they work out for you.

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Assistant Editor: Dana Gornall/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo Credit: Pixoto/Wecax Haryo Pamungkas

Photo Credit Juice Flickr Creative Commons/Miriam Wilcox

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