My Word for 2015
I love new beginnings. And what better way to celebrate a new beginning than at New Year’s? The dawn of a new year is a good time for some reflection. We look at the year behind us to examine our regrets and also to make note of the successes. And then we turn hopeful faces toward the year to come. Many of us resolve to make positive changes and set new goals for reaching those outcomes.
We’re like Janus, the ancient Roman god having two heads that face in opposite directions. One head looks back to the year departed, and the other looks forward to the year to come.A couple of years ago, I started picking a word to focus on for the year instead of making resolutions to break. The first word I chose was “enough”—as in, I am enough; I have enough; I do enough. The focus on this simple word throughout the year proved transformative for me because it freed me to love and accept myself just as I am without constantly striving to be more, do more, have more.
The word I centered on last year was “kindness.” I began the year by resolving to ask myself in every situation: “What is the kindest thing I can do or say in this particular moment?” The focus on kindness also changed my life. I discovered the gift of kindness toward others when I show them care is actually a gift to myself. It opened me and enhanced my life. As I dug for information about the practice of kindness, I learned it has roots in every major religion and philosophy in the world. I also learned that science says kindness not only improves physical and mental health, but also increases longevity!
I’d been waiting for a word to surface from my subconscious to claim as my word for 2015. When none came, I realized I’m not finished with “kindness” just yet. That’s why, for 2015, I plan to continue my focus on the word. But this year, I’m extending the essential question to “what is the kindest thing I can do, say or think at this particular moment?” I’m sure the verb I’m adding will present more of a challenge for me.
I find it much easier to control my actions and words than my thoughts. For example, this morning after I’d spread my yoga mat in my usual space, someone immediately unrolled her mat right beside mine. Barely two feet of laminate flooring separated her lime green mat from my fuchsia-hued one! I automatically smiled a welcome in her direction, but the smile belied my thoughts. What is she doing?? I seethed. This studio is virtually empty! She’s so close, I’m likely to deck her during sun salutation. Maybe I should!
But of course, I simply shifted my gear slightly forward and completed the yoga session without incident. And I ended yoga on a shameful note because as I went through the poses, my mind drifted back to my “shadow.” She was probably new to yoga and wasn’t aware of the spacing needs. She may have been looking for a mentor, or at least a friendly face, and I shut her out. A missed opportunity for kindness! I tried to make it up to her with friendly chatter after class.
I can blame my initial reaction on the sugar overload from the holiday eating, or inadequate sleep, or even the bad cold that’s plagued me for days. Any number of things can affect our internal response to the situation at hand on a given day. But what if we’re able to train our minds to see positivity in every situation? Immediately. Not just after a peaceful, restorative yoga practice. Because I want kind thoughts to become my default response in 2015, I’ll monitor my thinking in an effort to keep it kind.