7-Ways to Shift Your Energy and Mood and Transform your Life in 2014!

autumn leaves 2

1) Forgiveness: Forgiveness is a powerful practice. It heals our hearts. One way to finish off one year and begin the next is to try to eliminate some baggage that drags us down. Let’s not carry that old stuff into a new year. Forgive what you or others have done either consciously or unconsciously. I like to start with myself- what do I need to forgive myself for from last year and let it go? Then what do I need to forgive in someone else or others? You will be amazed, as I always am, when you move through some of these very heavy weights that we carry around with us. It frees up a lot of energy.

“To err is human, to forgive divine.” Alexander Pope

2) Make time for yourself (especially you Moms out there!): Sometimes even when we set up practices we know will improve the quality of our lives, they can get lost in the “busy-ness “ of our days. Think about what makes your soul sing and figure out a way to make sure there is space for it in your life. For me, there is nothing better than getting outside into the natural world. I call it my spiritual sanctuary. Find a special, beautiful and peaceful place that helps you feel more centered. If it’s not nature for you what is it that you need more of? More play? Downtime? Exercise? Can you give yourself permission to do this? It won’t just happen. You have to schedule it. And once that time is scheduled, don’t give it away. After all, if we don’t take time for ourselves, this is how burnout gains a foothold in our lives! The answers we seek are available inside us, if only we give ourselves the time and space to let them bubble up and come to the surface.

“Find the thing that stirs your heart and make room for it. Life is about the development of self to the point of unbridled joy.” Joan Chittister

3) Start Saying No! Where if your life, do you need to say no instead of yes? This is a big one for me this year and goes hand-in-glove with the previous one. In order to have room for what makes our soul sing, or even give us a little downtime or needed rest, we need to say no to some things that just do not work for us. Requests from others? TV time? Electronic gadget time? Social events? Social responsibilities? Breaking our own boundaries? These are just a few of the yes’s that maybe need to be no a little more often. I am definitely working on a few of these this year for myself.

“Sometimes we behave as though there was something more important than life. But what?” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

4) Stop the complaining! This is a big one. We are immersed in a complaining culture. Once you start paying attention to it in yourself and others, you will be as shocked as I am at how common it is. It is often a way we bond with each other. Some conversations are one-up complaints. It’s in our everyday life and relationships, our politics, etc. Many of us go there so easily. I can sometimes hear myself spew out 3 or 4 complaints in a five-minute period. Of course this is a hard practice to completely get rid of. But we can start by raising our awareness. One exercise is to allow yourself to complain for just 15 minutes a day and get them all out. Then that’s it. And by the way, notice how you feel at the end of your fifteen-minute complain-a-thon. Usually not very good! Another way to get started on this one is to set a period of time with no complaints. Start with just one hour, maybe the first hour of the morning. Then keep increasing the time. Or, when you hear yourself complain, just reverse it. For example, is there something I can do to change or fix this? How can this be a better experience for me? Again notice your energy and mood at the end of a no-complaint period, or when you have turned the complaint into an opportunity. Can you go for a whole day? A week? A month?

Of course, we all have things we can complain about in our lives. I am not suggesting we turn all Pollyanna and never say anything negative. But still, you will notice when you start this practice, most of our complaints are what I call “recreational complaining”. It’s typically about the little and meaningless things. Ironically, many of us work very differently with the big challenges in our lives. Once you start really paying attention to this in yourself, you will begin to notice how easy it is to go there in conversations with others. You will notice we are swimming in a world of complaints. Ask yourself in those conversations, is this giving me energy or zapping my energy? I find this one of the most useful, and most difficult practices to maintain. I highly recommend giving it a try.

“Change your thoughts, change your world.”  Norman Vincent peale

5) Practice Gratefulness: Speaking of complaining, when we are feeling grateful, it becomes almost impossible to complain. Try it sometime. The more we intentionally use a gratefulness practice, the more it begins to grow in our lives automatically. One simple way to start is to create a simple list of things you are grateful for in your life. Maybe start with 5 things a day- at the beginning or end of the day. Make sure to write them down. When we start this practice, we usually begin with the overarching things, like the people in our lives, good work, having enough resources, health, etc. As the first days pass, we start getting into the smaller and smaller things until soon we are looking for what we are grateful for each day, this particular place, this opportunity that presents itself to us. Like the previous exercise, it is hard to live here all the time. But the gift of choosing to practice gratefulness starts to grow in a way that we live there more and more. And being there more and more is priceless! Embrace an attitude of gratefulness and appreciation.

“We are never more than one grateful thought away from peace of heart.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

6) Pick One to Three Things for 2014: What 1,2 or 3 things do I want to do in 2014 to improve the quality of my life? It does not have to be everything you want to accomplish. Ask yourself what have I been wanting to do to improve my health, joy, peace? Where have I been challenged? What will I do this year to help move me closer to that goal? Maybe some of these practices will help. What is most important to you right now as you read this? Write it down!

“The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making them changes both the maker and their destination.” John Schaar

7) A 2014 with no regrets: Can you imagine getting to the end of the year with no regrets? Regrets are just more baggage that zap our energy and drag us down. What practices, intentions, changes, and boundaries do you want to begin right now to help create a year of no regrets?

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?” Dorothy Day

I hope you feel inspired to at least try some of these practices, or create some special ones for yourself. And let’s make 2014 a year full of joy, health and peace!