As a new decade begins, we have a golden opportunity to reinvent ourselves. As a result, many of us are setting positive goals and striving to become better people. “New year, new me!” as the saying goes. However, we are often disappointed when, several days in, we come to the realization that nothing has changed. We tend to forget that change is not a process that happens to us spontaneously. We mistakenly wait for ‘things’ in our life to change but ‘things’ aren’t capable of change… real change only happens when we change. How can we maintain a commitment to living a healthier, more positive life in 2020? Here are some suggestions that may help as we all strive to become the best possible version of ourselves.
1. What you do today is the only thing that matters. You are only capable of living one day at a time so, when it comes down to it, what matters the most is what you choose to do today. If you are serious about making positive changes in your life, then the best place to begin is right now. By my calculations, there are a total of 87,600 hours in a decade- so claiming that there isn’t enough time to be healthy is just another excuse. The fact is that you have plenty of time, it’s just a matter of prioritizing that time in a way that promotes your well-being. Ultimately you are faced with a choice, you can either spend your time cultivating wellness today or you will have to spend your time battling against disease later. Life is short. How would you rather spend your time?
2. Respect your future self. Your current daily habits determine the person you will become in the future. How are you going to feel ten years from now? The truth is, unless you can change your daily habits, then the next ten years are going to be very much the same as the last ten years. If you are cultivating health and strength on a daily basis, then you will continue to be healthy and strong. Conversely, if you continue to indulge in self-destructive behaviors, then you will continue to self-destruct. That’s just the way life works. Your current state of wellness is the cumulative result of the daily habits you employed in the past, whereas your future state of wellness relies entirely upon the decisions you make in the present. So, if you need extra motivation to maintain your commitment to an exercise routine or to a healthy diet, think about your future self and do it for them.
3. Your life lessons will continue. Just because you have decided to become the best possible version of yourself doesn’t mean that life will stop throwing various challenges at you. How you choose to react to these challenges is a measure of your spiritual and emotional growth. Certain life lessons will occur again and again until such time as you are able to react differently to them in the moment. I recently came across a quote that succinctly sums up my point:
“The most important spiritual growth doesn’t happen when you are meditating or on a yoga mat. It happens in the midst of conflict- when you’re frustrated, angry or scared and you’re doing the same old thing, and then you suddenly realize that you have a choice to do it differently…” -Anonymous
That’s not to say that yoga and meditation are not important to your spiritual growth. But how you react in the moment to real life challenges is a reflection of your ability to embody that spiritual growth. Spiritual practices can help you cultivate inner peace and equanimity, but the real test takes place when life's various challenges arise. Regardless of the circumstances you face, there is always the option to sink below the level of resistance and turmoil and reside inside the eternal peace of your being.
4. Nobody is perfect. In the quest to become a better version of yourself, it is important not to get caught up in the impossible task of perfection. No matter how many hours you dedicate to making yourself perfect, you will never arrive at a satisfactory end point. There will always be room for improvement. Think of it this way: in order to play a melody, an instrument needs to be in tune. However, at a certain point, musicians will stop tuning up their instruments and begin to play them. Likewise, you can get so involved in the process of bringing your being into perfect tune that you forget the whole point- which is to create beautiful music while you are here.
Nick Hughes is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and co-owner of Well Being. Influenced by the ideas of Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra, Nick presents his unique take on human existence with the goal of helping others live a happier life.