At the end of every year I have a habit of going back and reviewing things that worked well in my life in the last 365 days. I think it’s useful to explore the actions, mindsets and understandings that have enhanced my well-being and happiness—and recognize those that didn’t, so they can be modified And because a big part of living SMART 365 is staying conscious, awake and aware—this practice might prove valuable for all of us. I’ll start by sharing a few ideas that increased the quality of my life in 2012.
#1 Evolve or petrify. Okay, this one isn’t new and sounds a bit harsh—but it is something I need to keep at the top of my list every single year. Change may be inevitable in this world but most of us, me included, tend to avoid it like the plague. Instead, the most vibrant and alive things in the Universe are constantly evolving, growing, changing and adapting—and if we aren’t doing that, we petrify. So unless the people you know, the activities you participate in, the words you write, the thoughts you think, the experiences you create are different in some ways from one year ago—you are on your way to becoming prematurely petrified. Learning to welcome change and being open to possibility is both liberating and exhilarating and a very SMART way to live.
#2 You can’t have too many friends. I recently heard an interview of a wise old man who when asked, said that the thing he valued the most in his long life was his friendships. In his view, friendship came above love in this regard because he believed that loving others is a human imperative. Instead, he pointed out that our friendships are our chosen relationships and they deepen and increase the quality of our life in hundreds of ways. I’m delighted to say I’ve strengthened and added to the friendships in my life this year and I am better for them all.
#3 Right-sizing is an amazing way to live. Ever since Thom and I made the bold step to rightsize our lives a couple of years ago it has only gotten more rewarding as time goes by. So much of the stuff that we think we need is really just a habit that can be broken and let go of—and once you do you’ll never go back to running that rat race and thinking more is better. Being debt-free and embracing a more minimal lifestyle puts the focus on the freedom and space to express and experience what is deeply satisfying. Want to feel abundant? Right-size your life!
#4 Happiness is much easier when you’re healthy and feel good. This has been a good year for Thom and I but we do not take our health for granted. We know of others who haven’t been as fortunate and are constantly reminded that feeling good about yourself and your life is much easier when you are pain free or have the resources for medical care. While we can’t control every circumstance, we definitely participate in the quality of our health and wellbeing.
#5 Numbers don’t mean that much. At the beginning of 2012 I barely had 50 regular subscribers to this blog. My Facebook “friends” were also under 100. Along the way I made some connections through Facebook and those numbers exploded. I also began attracting more readers and my subscribers have grown exponentially as well. At first it was very exciting to see that people were interested in what I was writing about—but truthfully nothing much has changed. The big lesson here is to do what you do because it comes from your soul—not because the world is paying any attention at all.
#6 You can’t please everyone so you might as well please yourself. This lesson falls on the heels of #5. It is a reminder to stay true to ourselves regardless of whether anyone else gets us or not. As a writer you find out very fast that not everyone likes your style, or your topic, so you have to make a choice—do you write to increase your numbers, or do your write what your heart wants to express and you feel guided to communicate? Can’t decide? —Reread #5!
#7 You can get a lot done if you don’t care who gets the credit. I heard this a long time ago and this year got the opportunity to make it mine. I volunteered for a “project,” put in quite a bit of work on it, and then at the last minute the idea and related work was high-jacked by another person. The thing is, the project was and still is a great gift that helped a lot of people. My ego wanted others to know how much I did to create it—but ultimately the good it did went far beyond me and that ultimately was what needed to happen.
#8 Practicing gratitude every day puts your focus on the good in your life. During the month of November I did a 30-Day Gratitude Challenge that made me focus on gratitude every single day for the entire month. Sure it was a lot of work but there were so many amazing benefits from that experience that I believe that making sincere appreciation for everything in our life is a critical element to a SMART life. I think we all know that gratitude is important—but taking it to a level of making it a habit was life enhancing in a big way for me.
#9 Helping/Serving Others is a Simple Way to Feel Valuable. I have had the privilege in my life to be a part of several communities that provided service to others. Every single time I participate I am reminded that by giving I receive so much more than I offer. I’m amazed that I don’t remember this more often—especially those times when I’m feeling blue—that by helping others I am the one who is most served.
#10 If you get to “make it up,” then why not make the story of your 2012 as happy, peaceful and content as possible? Quite a few articles I wrote and researched this year proved that human perception is very individual. What we see, remember and think about is based upon our personal worldviews and bias’s. On the other hand we are meaning-seeking beings that will weave a story out of any experience that happens in our life based upon those perceptions. If we can accept that as true—then why on Earth would we live with stories that did not make us happy, fulfilled and at peace? I want to remember that I am the writer of the story of my life—as are you yours—and I’m writing mine in a way that serves both others and myself.
So those are a few of the reflections floating around in my head as 2012 draws to an end. There is a good chance that I could have written an entire blog post about every single item—but for now you get the idea. If any of these apply to your life, you’re welcome to use them as intentions for the coming year—or write out your own truths and include them instead. If anything, SMART Living is a reminder for us all to live as consciously as possible so that every year is a collection of 365 days that add up to a more meaningful, peaceful and happy life.
What are your reflections on 2014? I’d love to hear your comments….
* this post was originally published at the end of the year 2012.