Kind, mindful, real: thoughts for the new year

Photo by Moodywalk on Unsplash

Good things should come from bad. And last year was pretty bad. Which is why I wanted to start off the new year by sharing some thoughts.

It’s nothing you haven’t heard before. Rather, it’s a list of priorities that stand out at the moment. A reminder. Conclusions from my own mistakes, from things I seem to have done better with. And, reactions to things that bothered or hurt me.

Don’t assume anything, ever. Ask.

This is a tough one because we all project and predict. Surely this, that and the other. And no, there’s no surely anything. We don’t know how someone feels, what they really think, want or will do. Assuming is disrespectful. It’s arrogance. And yes, assuming seems safer, but only because we don’t see the risk and loss involved. It’s like buying stuff with a credit card and never checking how much we’re actually spending.

If it’s difficult it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

Obviously there needs to be value in a goal, and a decent foundation to start with. We can’t all be astronauts. And lots of things are easy, or at least appear to be. But even with talent and ease, there’s challenge. A lot of it. Frustration. Obstacles.

Anything worth a damn takes work, and comes with struggle, investment, and fierce, honest commitment. Easy gets boring really quickly. In easy, there’s no growth, no opportunity. If it’s easy, it’s time to be suspicious.

Drop incessant positivity.

Too much of a good thing is toxic. We know this. It’s refreshing to be a ray of sunshine, but scorching people isn’t exactly useful. Instead, let’s listen. Empathize. Be a witness to what others feel. In dark moments they might need some encouragement. But they certainly don’t need their feelings invalidated or corrected just because we happen to be doing better or really well. Not everyone thrives at all times.

Practice allowing.

From instinct or conditioning, we react to every thought and feeling. We try to understand and find meaning. Especially in stressful times, everything tends to become dangerous and dramatic. We start to imagine danger that quickly escalates into catastrophe. And while analysis has its place, there’s also need to just allow. To create space between ourselves and a feeling or thought, whether good or scary and uncomfortable. No judgment, no reaction. Just sit. Watch. Breathe. Let it be what it is. Let it pass.

It’s ok to be cross, it’s not ok to be unjust. (Cora ~ Downton Abbey)

Some days really suck. And you want to scream at everyone. People make mistakes, misunderstand, or just act like themselves, which for whatever reason, on a given day, ends up being monumentally annoying. As a moody creature, I know that whatever bothers me is about me being triggered. And while it helps if we’re all mindful of each other’s triggers, sometimes it can’t be helped. Being cranky and irritated is fine, as long as we step back, recover, and then apologize. Punishing others for our bad days is such a shitty thing to do.

Trust, imagine and nurture good things.

Imagining the worst or imagining something good is an equal gamble. Neither prepares us what will actually happen. There is this illusion that imagining a best case outcome is totally unrealistic. And if we think the worst, then we can’t be surprised or hurt. But that’s not how it works.

Once we choose a mindset, our biases get to work, and all we see is whatever we’re looking to confirm. Just like when you get a new car and suddenly start seeing the same brand or color everywhere. What’s more, imagine growing or creating anything while intently watching for it to die and fail, instead of looking for ways to nurture it.

Let go of toxic influences. For real.

There’s an image that came to mind here…if someone’s in quicksand, to save them you don’t jump in. You throw them a rope or branch, and pull them out.

When I think of toxicity, first it’s about people. And my tendency is towards obligation and trying to please everyone. It doesn’t work. Sometimes, even people we love or are related to can be very toxic, despite their good intentions.

But toxic isn’t just about people. It can be the news. It can be our own refusal to try doing things a bit differently, invite some healthy habit or positive thought. It can be stubbornness, laziness or acceptance of victimhood because of fear.

Obviously we can’t always abandon people who are not exactly contributing to our wellness, or change our own habits in one instant. But we can be compassionate and loving, and still shield. Create distance without punishment or resentment. Push ourselves at our own pace. Slow and steady.

And now to wrap up. Maybe all this can be summed up in the goals of simply being kinder, more mindful of what’s good and healthy in us – and for us. Mindful of others. And being real.

Happy New Year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.