How to have a kinder, calmer year

Hello, and happy new year! I can't quite believe the festive season is behind us and we're full-swing into the second week of January. We had a wonderful white Christmas, but a busy one: we have hosted 15 people since 9 November. Every visit was lovely, but as you can imagine, over that time, I learnt a lot about being kinder to myself and calmer in the world! 

Which brings me to the first big idea for this blog for 2017: how to have a kinder, calmer year. How can we be kinder to ourselves, and calmer in the world, not just sometimes but all the time, from now until new year's eve rolls around again? As you may know, this is my ongoing goal: to be kinder to myself and calmer in the world. In fact, I didn't set any new year's resolutions for 2017. I felt good at the end of 2016 (better than I have for a long time) and I really just wanted to continue that feeling into the new year. And I really just wanted to continue to focus on being kinder and calmer. How about you?

But how do we do that? How do we have a kinder, calmer year?

The short answer is: we make it happen. We actively choose it (as best we can).

I'm particularly interested in mindset and how our thoughts create our reality. I was reminded of this (yet again) when I woke up this morning. The room was warm and dark, and for the first 30 seconds, my mind was blissfully blank after a good night's sleep. But as soon as I started thinking, I started judging those thoughts, and attaching emotional reactions to them. Before I knew it, I had created a certain mood for my day (this means I had chosen my mood, because it is definitely a choice). I could feel myself going in a particular direction (to grumpy town), and I had to purposefully (and with some effort) redirect my thoughts (and therefore my emotions) back in the direction I wanted to go (to happy town).

As difficult as it can be (and it is difficult a lot of time, for me at least) I think we need to actively choose our thoughts every morning when we open our eyes and every moment throughout the day. One of the few things we have complete control over is our reactions to life's events: how we respond. We can choose a thought, and if we don't feel good about it, we can choose again ... and again.

There's a great little idea from women's health specialist Christiane Northrup called 'pre-paving', which entails lying in bed for a few moments each morning and imagining in detail how you want your day to go, from getting the kids to school on time, to finding the perfect parking spot, for example. You can revisit pre-paving many times throughout the day, picturing in detail the outcome you want before you get to it.

There's an awful lot to the topic of mindset and how to use our thoughts to create our reality, and I'll explore a lot of it on the blog this year (because I am a bit obsessed with the notion, and because I believe it's a crucial key to living a kinder, calmer life).

Other topics I reckon we could tackle this year include:

  • changing or forming habits (how to make sustainable change)
  • acting on learned information (for example, you might read a good book and love everything you learn, but then forget almost all of it a day or so later. How do we change that?)
  • conquering fear (particularly fear of success and happiness, and fear of failure)
  • being more confident in your chosen field (there's a great body of work from Canadian Tanya Geisler on a phenomenon called 'the impostor syndrome' which we can look at here)
  • choosing love over fear (the definition of a miracle) every day
  • having a toolkit of ways to calm down quickly and easily
  • taking our own advice (doing what we know to be good for us)
  • parenting from a kinder, calmer perspective (I read something amazing about taking the time to really make eye contact with your kids, for example)
  • managing time and expectations
  • managing food 
  • practising self-care
  • practising acceptance and surrender (huge ones for me)
  • combatting perfectionism and control (other huge ones for me).

So, as you can see, there's a rich vein of information we can plunder on ways to be kinder to ourselves and calmer in the world in 2017. As I always say, I am not an expert in these topics, but as a corporate writer and editor for over 20 years, I am an expert in packaging up useful information and delivering it to readers in an interesting and accessible way.

So, here's to a fabulous 2017. May we all flourish, and may we all actively choose more and more ways to be kinder to ourselves and calmer in the world, starting with the thoughts we choose to think, and how we start and move through our day.

I'll be back later in the week with the first new topic for this year ... 

In the meantime, how are you feeling about 2017? Got any kindness and calmness goals you want to achieve?

And if you want to read more about the power of thought, you could look up these authors:

Louise Hay
Pam Grout
Dr Wayne Dyer
Lissa Rankin
Rhonda Byrne
Mike Dooley
Norman Vincent Peale
Florence Scovel Shinn
Eckhart Tolle
Marianne Williamson
Gabby Bernstein
Natalie Bartley