Happy New Year!
I wish you many blessings and joys in the new year…
As you are winding down 2016 and looking toward 2017, you may be reflecting on how the year was for you – maybe with relief to be done with it all; maybe with anticipation or dread about what lies ahead. You may be exhausted from all the activity, eager to pull in with some quiet time; or feel replenished and ready to start the new year with gusto. You may have suffered heartache and loss in the last year, and/or completed some important projects or accomplishments for yourself. Most likely your 2016 was quite a mixture of many rich moments that make up daily living – including highs and lows, strengths and vulnerabilities, joys and sadnesses, frustrations and triumphs.
I hope you take the time to pause and reflect on whatever 2016 was for you, and notice the full spectrum of your experiences.
I also urge you to set intentions for yourself rather than resolutions for 2017. Intentions come from the heart and are gentler ways of getting yourself to live the life that matters to you. Setting intentions is more about connecting with your values rather than some wished for outcome. Intentions help you to align your daily living practices with what’s most important, and they don’t set you up for failure the way resolutions do… How many years have you made the same resolutions, only to fall off the path before February?
By setting intentions, you can always come back to them as gentle reminders about how you want to be in daily life. As in mindfulness, you can always come back to the breath as a reminder to be present, and you can always return to your intentions as a guide for daily living and start fresh each time. No need to give up on your resolution because you haven’t been able to be consistent with it. When you set an intention, you are creating a scaffolding that always helps you to go in the right direction.
Once you’ve allowed yourself to pause and pay attention to your breath for a few moments, some questions to ask yourself when setting an intention are:
- What’s in my heart’s desire?
- What is it that I value deeply?
- Given whatever time I have left on this planet, how would I most like to live it?
- What are the attitudes, beliefs, feelings that are important to me that I want to live more days than not?
- What in the depths of my heart do I wish for myself, my loved ones, and for the world?
Your intentions allow you to take an important first step toward deciding what you want to pay attention to, which helps you to stay focused and connected to a guideline for what you wish to include more of in your life. Set your best intentions to keep inclining in the direction you truly need to go.
Setting intentions requires deliberate articulation of a conscious goal and how you wish to achieve that. It’s not about living from a reactive stance or one that lacks consideration. Intentions are thoughtful and meaningful.
Often our resolutions are based on the shoulds of life, which ultimately tap into our resistance. An intention is a more positive and welcoming statement. Intentions set the tone and can influence our mood, thoughts, feelings. When there are gaps between our intentions and our behavior, it’s important to not judge ourselves to be self-critical, but simply to renew our intention.
Take a few moments to set your intentions for 2017; or better yet set an intention for each day… Something like Lee Lipp’s daily intention,
“Today, may I be more mindful of my body, mind, and speech in my interactions with others. May, as far as I can, avoid deliberately hurting others. May I relate to myself, to others, and to the events around me with kindness, understanding and less judgment. May I use my day in a way that is in tune with my deeper values.”
Or something simpler like:
- May I be kind today
- May I consider something new today
- May I practice road kindness rather than road rage
- May I remember to compliment my loved ones
- May I notice when I’m getting self-critical and offer myself another option
- May I be with and feel my feelings a moment longer
- May I pause every time I take the elevator
- May I not berate myself so harshly
- May I take the time to watch a spider spin a web; or to count the stars on a clear night.
- May I set a daily intention
- May I share more
- May I laugh more
- May I dance more
- May I find something each day to take joy in
- May I smile at my thighs, my belly, my gray hairs
- May I find the beauty
- May I breathe more
- May I have more compassion for other people’s human-nesses .
- May I play more
- May I rollerskate, bike ride, splash in the ocean, blow bubbles, play games more
- May I love what I have. May I need what I want. May I accept what I receive. May I give what I can.
May your intentions be fulfilled tenfold in 2017…
Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
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