Review Your Life Before You Resolve to Change It

Because it’s a new calendar year, everyone’s talking about New Year’s resolutions. But how can you make a new, forward-looking resolution if you aren’t sure where you are starting from?

Can you imagine a business that decides to implement a new set of policies without considering whether or how any of the current policies are working? And can you imagine the results if that business had no concrete way to measure whether or how any of the current policies are working? Obviously, it would be a disaster.

But what about our personal lives? Do we ever stop to consider how and why we are doing things the we do? From our daily habits, to family living, to hobbies and skills, we can learn a lot from taking time to reflect back on what is and isn’t working, and why.

Good resolutions start with good reviews. Have you paused to take a good look at 2018?

Continue Reading

Want to Be Less Stressed? Try This One Simple Question

Today I found myself running late for an appointment. I hate hurrying, but it was my own fault. The trains were also running late, and those few minutes were probably going to cost me. As I rushed along in the cold, the times grew tighter and I found myself becoming more and more stressed.

Still, it was a beautiful morning, with the sun poking through the clouds after the bitter rains of the past few days. And in a moment of grace, it occurred to me that either I could spend the entire morning stressed out, or I could try to enjoy it, despite the pressures of time.

This realization felt like a hard-won victory. I’m prone to stress, to wanting to control everything, to having things be just the way I want them to be. But the last few years, it has occurred to me that choosing to be the kind of person who is driven by stress is just that – a choice. At least, in part. Continue Reading

Cultivating a Contemplative Approach

Do you enjoy going to museums, being immersed in a work of art? Or a symphony, where you are plunged into the music? Are you content to just be in nature, surrounded by beauty? Or, do you start to feel bored after a roomful of paintings? A bit anxious by the third movement of the piece? Ready to have phone signal only an hour into the hike?

I know I struggle to pay attention to these offerings of beauty in the world: and I’ve noticed that the more I’ve been on email, phone, social media or tech, the harder it is for me to be present to the world around me.

Art, nature, beauty – these things require a contemplative stance: our interior posture has to shift from activity to receptivity, from doing to being. We have to choose reflection over analysis, sitting-with rather than taking-on.

It doesn’t come easily for most of us. Continue Reading

I Should vs. I Choose

Do you struggle with the “shoulds”?

The “shoulds” is a condition that I’ve noticed in my own life, and in the lives of those who struggle with perfectionism – although it can affect others, too!

Someone with the “shoulds”:

“should” try harder. Try harder at being a better person. Try harder at not being so lazy. Try harder at doing whatever thing is the thing to be doing – growing houseplants, becoming a minimalist, buying eco-friendly clothing.

 “should” work more. Lean in. Hustle. Have a side-gig.

“should” seize the day more. You Only Live Once, so they should climb the mountain, see the sunrise, eat crickets.

“Shoulds” are burdensome. They lead to constant guilt about all the things we aren’t doing, and to none of the joy about the things we are.

Someone with the “shoulds” basically just feels bad about existing most of the time. Continue Reading

No Take-Backs and the 24 Hour Rule

Did your school lunch consist of healthy snacks – apple slices with peanut butter and home-made granola bars? Or were your parents “cool” enough to send you with pre-packaged Cheetos and Skittles? (Or the holy grail of packed lunch, Lunchables?)

I got pretty lucky for the most part – including a year of sugar cereal packed in a plastic container when I refused to eat sandwiches “with birdseed on the crust” as I called it. I was definitely cafeteria queen that year.

That year, I did not participate in the complicated snack bartering process taking place every day over the laminated tables. But the birdseed years? Yeah, those were the years when I desperately hoped to get lucky and emerge from the elementary school market openly gloating over a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos snagged in place of generic pretzel sticks. On those occasions, the “no take-backs!” rule was shouted as soon as the prepackaged goodness hit my hot little fingers.

You made a mistake? You don’t even like pretzels? Too bad! No take-backs! Better luck next time.

Sometimes I find my email making the same claim. Didn’t mean to hit send? Wrong recipient? Reply instead of Forward? Too bad! No take-backs! Better luck next time. Continue Reading