“Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand-new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
I recently spent two weeks in the United States (central Texas, to be more exact) over the holidays visiting family and friends. I have lived in Guatemala for the past five and a half years, leading a progressively more progressive lifestyle all the time, especially since mid-2012, when I relocated from the city to a smaller community near a beautiful lake in the western highlands. I hadn’t been home for a visit in a year and a half, so the reverse culture shock was kinda brutal.
I loved being there and seeing everybody and eating lots of delicious, processed foods. For me, it’s a cinch to be unhealthy in Austin. There’s too much convenience: too much yummy yet non-nutritious food, too many cable channels, too many SUVs, and too many big box stores selling too much crap. I loved coming back to my chosen home, where it’s warm, sunny and not-rushed, so easier to be more mindful and healthy, in my experience.
I’m feeling really excited about the new year and the potential it holds. Here are my eight best suggestions on how to make 2015 our best year yet. May they be of benefit!
Mindfulness, meaning paying attention to the present moment experience with compassion and openness, is something we can all cultivate more through our day-to-day lives and habits. Becoming more conscious of our words, feelings, thoughts, behavior, desires and dreams is a wonderful thing that offers amazing, truly life-changing benefits to the devoted practitioner. The great thing about mindfulness is that it can be accomplished through any activity: sitting meditation, yoga, walking, eating, talking, bowling, flying kites, you name it.
To each her own. We cannot change anyone but ourselves, we can only influence others. And the best way to influence others is through modeling. Judgment and criticism are part of our human nature, and that’s fine to a certain extent. But it’s no fun to be excessively judgmental and critical. Let it go. Let’s stop comparing, competing and ranking ourselves and instead strive to collaborate, cooperate and communicate better.
For me, that means yoga asana. Walking, Biking. Swimming. For you, it might mean playing a sport, running, hiking mountains, climbing rocks. Whatever it is, do it! Move your body, free your mind, revitalize your spirit.
Less unhealthy consumption
I ate a lot of junk over Christmas. I was only there two weeks. I drank soda, ate cake, Tex-Mex, chips and dips and all the things that I normally don’t consume. I watched television, because television is a part of everyday life for my family, like most families in America. I tried going shopping but I couldn’t handle more than five minutes inside any store besides Half-Price Books. The U.S. holiday shopping chaos is unacceptable; I simply opt out. I’m not saying never go shopping or eat junk food or watch TV, just try doing so in moderation rather than excess.
More fruits and veggies
And nuts. And things that come straight from the earth. From a plant, not a factory.
Less mindless words
This is a tough one. Gossip is no good. Nor speaking just to hear yourself talk. Words are powerful. Use them wisely and think of the effect they have on others.
What are you thankful for today? There is so much goodness in our lives and in the world. It’s essential to remember and express gratitude for people, things, places. The little things. The joys and sadnesses of life.
Conscious learning, not necessarily classroom learning. Learning about your own learning. What do you want to learn? What books are you reading? What words are you writing? Who are you listening to? What are you absorbing? How can you learn more about consciousness, peacemaking, community building, and whatever other personal passions you have? How can you teach, mentor and influence others?
Bonus: More metta
Send loving kindness to all beings, including yourself.
May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you be free!
Please feel free to add your ideas and suggestions in the comments.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Michelle Margaret Fajkus
Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: Dmitry Kichenko at Flickr