Ten Tips for the New Year.. and the Rest of Your LifeAs the new year approaches, we often think back on the year we’re finishing, and at the same time, consider the year ahead. This mood of reflection started my thinking along those lines, but my thoughts went off on a tangent and I began to consider instead, how to best live this new year before me. It is my offering, such as it is, of advice for life. These are things I’ve figured out, even if I am still working on how to apply them to my own life.
Here's the final tip:
#10 HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR.
I know, it won't be all sweetness and roses... and if you're diabetic and allergic to flowers, that's a good thing. But it won't be all bad either.
Sometimes we have a tendency to expect the new year to miraculously transform life and remove all negatives. If they are still here, how is it a happy new year? Perhaps it is time to spend a moment reflecting on those negatives, to make sure they aren't self-inflicted. Change what you can, accept what you can't, and move on.
Above all, celebrate the good moments, treasure the memories of a lifetime, and get past the negatives as quickly as possible. Have a HAPPY new year... accept nothing less.
In case you missed the rest:
#1 HONOR YOUR HERITAGE.
If you don’t know the traditions of your ancestors, perhaps this is the year you should research and discover them This might be the year you begin researching your family tree and see what you find out. My son-in-law is Filipino, a group I had only limited exposure to until I met him. I have encouraged my daughter to make sure their sons learn about that culture as well as hers. From their Lola (grandma) they are learning many traditions. They attend weddings, feasts, and other events of a rich culture. They’re learning about the traditional foods, language, dances, and clothing. Your heritage is a part of you. Some ignore this, seeking instead to blend into a melting pot of sameness. Perhaps you don’t have any reason to make it a part of your daily life, but if nothing else, it can be fun to discover traditions and holidays your ancestors followed.
#2 RESPECT YOUR RITUALS AND CUSTOMS.
Without even realizing it, our past is a part of the future. These are the rocks your foundation is built upon. Take time to keep the parts that are important to you, that you feel is true. It is in this repetition of rituals that teaching the following generation takes place. As you participate, you take it in and you understand meanings and apply them to our own life. While I didn’t grasp the depth until I considered it, this was why I was so touched when I learned that my 4 year old grandson, Noah, would be a shepherd at Christmas. He had heard the Nativity Story, yet did not fully understand it. But like all of the prior generations of “shepherds” before him, he was now a part of the tradition, a tradition that had potential to become a source of richness and internal peace. It is a reassurance of sorts, that despite the craziness of the world and the new inventions, some things will continue to be important.
#3 HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR FAITH.
To most of us, our faith journey is a constant work in progress. But, without convictions of belief, what serves as the compass? Without some internal principle, we are left to twist in the wind. My faith in God gives me the assurance of constant presence, shown not only to those in history, but in my own life. Most importantly, there is the internal peace I can’t find elsewhere.
#4 FORGIVE YOURSELF AND OTHERS.
We mess up. Things don’t go the way we wish, sometimes due to our own negligence. Others make mistakes and disappoint us. Dwelling on these things can tear one apart and cause us to be frozen and unable to move past the situation. It can create a desperation in our own thought process and cause resentment from others. Holding resentment and grudges for things others have done to us does nothing more than make us miserable. There is nothing we can do other than move forward. Hopefully, lessons were learned and mistakes won’t be repeated, but either way, we can’t go back and undo the past.
#5 ADMIRE YOUR STRENGTHS.
Yes, you do too have some! Perhaps you should make yourself a list of at least five things that you do well. No one said they had to be the best in the world, but be YOUR strengths. Once you do, who knows? Perhaps you’ll keep them in mind when considering how to best tackle tough situations in the future.
#6 SEEK OUT THE POSITIVE.
Surround yourself with the people that bring you up, not drag you down. Notice the pretty sunsets and admire the good job someone did on something. Be glad when something you want goes on sale… or at least, doesn’t increase in price. CHOOSE to be happy.
#7 TRY AGAIN.
So it didn’t go as planned, or you didn’t compete the task you set out to do. Is your life over? No, so there’s still time. Perhaps you were approaching it in the wrong way. Maybe you needed more time. Could it be that only parts of the task can be accomplished at once? Fortunately, we aren't judged only by our accomplishments, but our efforts. Sometimes we think we've failed, but it wasn't the task we failed at but thinking we were done. The task may actually be a work in progress. Be sure that you realize this, so that you know it's okay to keep working on it. Analyze the situation. Consider the options available to you now and in the future. Make a plan. Prioritize the steps. Move forward. Accept the results, either temporarily or for good.
#8 CELEBRATE YOUR LIFE.
Barring something I don’t know about, it’s the only one you get here on earth. If your life is drowning in the mundane, don’t focus on that part. Instead, focus on the other parts – those quick moments outside the drudgery. Congratulate yourself on the small victories, whether it was cleaning up and organizing a closet, serving a nice meal, making the dog’s day by playing ball, or finding something you lost. Perhaps it is what you didn’t do that is worth celebrating. You did not complain to the person that made a mess of the sandwich you ordered, you didn’t do what you wanted to do, but helped someone else instead, or maybe it was driving past the doughnut shop without stopping.
#9 LIVE NOW.
This is one I often struggle to follow, but am learning that it is necessary. In many ways, I think my best successes were in my past and I have less to offer now. But that time is gone and to dwell on it, makes the rest of my life meaningless. Sometimes we didn’t do things the best way in the past. Let it go. As an optimist, I generally feel that things will work out later. I’m always sure that somehow, things will be better than now. But to sit around and wait for the better days might prevent me from doing the very things that will make them this way. Above all, it robs me of today. The present is all we really have. Don’t waste time by dreaming of the past or future, but focusing on and enjoying today. Figure out what you have to offer now and make sure to do so.