On Thanksgiving we give thanks, mostly for our loved ones, our good health and all the aspects of our lives that really matter. We know that the important things in life aren’t things. Right around the corner is Christmas, Hannakah, Kwanza or whatever you celebrate. Then there is the New Year’s celebration and everything that that holiday suggests, new beginnings, a fresh start, a new you either mentally, physically or both. Resolutions are in the air this time of year. What are yours?
May I make a suggestion? Resolve to know yourself and what makes you tick. This is the hardest of all. Who are you really? Our loved ones know us as a certain person, doing certain things, reacting a certain way, and they are comfortable having us in that little place in their heads. Often times, we try to live up to those expectations and stay there, even if we have grown into someone else, because we don’t want to disappoint others or we don’t know how to get out of that box. Making changes can rock our world and theirs. It takes courage to look into our hearts and figure out who we truly are. It takes even more courage to make changes based on what we discovered about ourselves.
How do we figure ourselves out? Perhaps take each area of your life and think about them separately if that helps you, knowing, of course, that they are intertwined. Think about your relationships, where you live, your spiritual health, your livelihood and all other parts of your life that make up who you are.
Is there something you like to do in life that you would do even if you didn’t get paid to do it? This is generally something you are passionate about. If so, that’s most likely what you should be doing. I have bills to pay, you say, people I can’t disappoint, years invested into what I am doing now. Walk your true path with full intention and passion and you will succeed, keeping in mind that success has many different forms. Living an honest life is living a fulfilling and happy life and when you are a happy person, you exude enthusiasm and your loved ones will appreciate and share your happiness and zest for life. I am not suggesting that if you are your families’ breadwinner, but always wanted to climb Mt. Everest that you leave home and do it. That would be cruel and irresponsible. You can, however, speak openly with your partner and family about your hopes and dreams and make plans for change, hopefully together. Maybe your partner has secret longings as well. I suppose being honest with yourself and others and allowing them to do the same is what makes it all work out. You can move slowly into your authentic self, being kind and empathetic with those in your life, while beginning your journey with full intent.
What about the relationships in your life? I’m no pro in this department, but I have learned a few things, one big lesson in particular. On my journey this year traveling the country interviewing kids for the non-profit I founded, I became friends with a man I met in New Orleans but who lived in Canada. We had an incredible time together, there and in other states, both acknowledging that it was too intense to sustain. That and we lived 2,600 miles apart and in different countries. With honesty and compassion we came out the other end as good friends, no small feat. In many ways this was my first real grown-up relationship with a man, because I was honest with myself and with him, as he was with me. Very freeing. It was a huge lesson and one that I will always be thankful for. Remember that you can be honest and still be respectful and kind. Honesty without kindness can be cruel.
Recognize too that you can’t make someone else happy, that’s his or her job. You simply do not have that power, none of us do. If you bend and mold yourself to please someone else, you probably will not be living your authentic life. You cannot keep this up for a lifetime and be emotionally or physically healthy and they are deeply intertwined. Resolve to stop doing this.
Intuition is important. Listen to your gut, pay attention to your dreams and daydreams. If you find yourself hesitating or trying to talk yourself into something, then it’s probably not right for you. If I find myself wondering and worrying about what my loved ones are going to think, I check in with ‘me’ again, think closely about my decisions, and do what my heart tells me to do.
If you are one of the lucky ones who understands yourself and is living an authentic life, but wants to stop smoking or loose those stubborn ten pounds, then my suggestion is to make small, sustainable steps to good health. Sounds a lot easier than figuring yourself out, doesn’t it?