‘New year – new me!’ It’s a catch phrase often echoed at the beginning of a calendar year. One filled with hope, with optimism and with a desire for change. But what do you do when you turn around and not only are you the same person you were yesterday, the day-in-day-out challenges of the last year feel oddly persistent?
By standing back and taking in a new perspective, we can increase our openness and experience a greater sense of freedom. By reflecting on our current situation with honest curiosity, we are opening ourselves up to new possibilities, new ways of being, thinking and doing. However, this step requires us to slow down and take a thorough and honest inventory of the facts.
We all have standards we’d like to achieve and things we’d like to change. However, learning to accept the things we cannot change and to focus on what’s actually within our control can have a huge impact on our wellbeing.
Accepting something doesn’t mean you agree with it or like it; however, struggling against our difficult or unpleasant feelings creates undue suffering. Acceptance is an active process – one we must first choose and then continue to choose. It’s natural to move between accepting discomfort and rejecting it. Acceptance often requires effort, but by making space to allow ourselves to experience a spectrum of emotions and encounters, we can find greater peace.
As someone once said:
‘If nothing changes, nothing changes.’
Action can be as simple as a few deep breaths, a warm cup of tea or a phone call with a friend. For some, a run outdoors is the human equivalent of turning a computer off and on again – helping to reset and to renew perspective. For others, this last ‘A’ will require you to take the time to assess your options in order to move forward in the most positive and productive direction possible.
Acceptance, Awareness. Action. By bringing these three elements together in harmony, we can feel better equipped to face challenging times and to meet them head on.
Try This at Home
Try journaling about the following over the next week and reflect on whether this process helped to make a positive difference.
I am aware that...
I accept that...
My action is to...
Five Ways to Flourish 1-Week Challenge
If you’re ready to take some action, here are five ideas you might like to explore in order to kick-start your year.1. Be Kind, Unwind!
Do something for yourself. Whether it’s dinner with friends, an early morning run, a Yin Yoga class, or curling up with a good book for an hour, set aside time to do something you find rejuvenating.
2. Get Social!
Use the power of social media to make a positive change. Tag a friend in an inspiring Instagram post, share a funny meme with a colleague, DM someone to let them know you’re thinking about them or share an uplifting article you found while ‘joy-scrolling’.
3. Reach Out!
Times are tough for many at the moment, but what can you do with what’s in your hand? Make coffee for a colleague, collaborate with your students to donate goods at a Salvation Army Store, or visit Foodbank Australia’s website (or an organisation in your area) to see how your family can help.
4. Check in!
When was the last time you genuinely checked in with a friend or colleague? Ask someone if they’re ok and be prepared to listen if they’re not. Check out R U Ok for tips on how to ask others how they are.
5. Show Compassion!
The beginning of the year holds a number of stressors for many of us. Bring to mind someone with whom you have difficulty and say to yourself, ‘May you be healthy. May you be happy. May you be at ease.’ Then try to embrace the same sentiments for yourself as well.
Aimee Bloom is the Product Manager at the Institute of Positive Education. She is responsible for crafting the Institute's Positive Education Enhanced Curriculum (PEEC) from ELC – 12. An experienced teacher and writer since 2005, Aimee has taught in both primary and secondary contexts, and has written content for a variety of government and non-government agencies. She is passionate about supporting teachers and ensuring the wellbeing of children, both in our schools and around the globe.