A month after the holidays: Being kind with the mind.


A break at the end of the year is a fantastic time to relax after a generally taxing and slightly insane year-end. It’s a time, sometimes, to leave good habits behind, and unleash some bad habits temporarily (sleeping late, eating too much, having the odd glass of wine at lunchtime…) Holidays for me, are often also times when I automatically move into a space of better thinking. It could be that on holiday, the only thing occupying my mind, is my mind – I’m not really under assault with all the stresses and stimuli like I am the rest of the year, when I have to reign my thoughts (and adrenaline) in.

Now, as we start a blank canvas (is it really actually that?), and perhaps feel full of angst at the start of something new, or the continuation of something ‘same-old’, it doesn’t matter. Time is infinite, so who says everything has to start (or end) on January 1? Anyway, I’m not sure if anyone hopped out of bed like the lady in the mattress ad on the first day back after the holidays, but I’d like to list a few things to be aware of as the good habits and bad habits all get mashed a little as we return to our routines.

Do you want to sit on the edge of the pool forever?

That feeling, oh that feeling. Not sure if the water is going to be so cold it’s going to knock the breath out of you? We worry far too much about all the stuff we want to do, but don’t know how it’ll feel, or work, or work out… We worry so much that the opportunity sometimes passes. I’m planning to spend more time jumping into the pool this year. I’m looking forward to that part, when my body has adjusted to the temperature. I’m not saying I’m going to jump into a massive half-frozen lake, or do twenty-seven somersaults off a 5m diving-board, but I am going to embrace more opportunities and keep trying new things. Join me!

Find your own happiness. Don’t wait for it to find you.

I guess this is linked with sitting on the edge of the pool. I have many special people in my life, yet my unique combination of interests and hobbies probably doesn’t really gel with any one particular person. This often leaves me with tons of things I want to do / love to do, and no-one to do them with. That has definitely never stopped me. If I had waited for a partner who enjoyed travel as much as me, I would never have explored any of the places I’ve been to. If I waited for a jogging partner / cycling buddy I’d never have clocked up even one medal by now. Find stuff that makes you happy, and do it. Over the holidays, I hopped in my car and went to the local SUP club. On my own. Because I wanted to SUP. I made a new friend on the water and ironically, since then, have had about 5 friends ask me if they can come with me next time. Maybe I’m just lucky, I don’t mind doing things on my own. I enjoy my own company. Don’t wait till it’s too late, go and do it. You might end up surprised, but either way you’ll be happy.

You’re only as old as you keep reminding yourself you are.

I was always the youngest team-member (or leader) at work, but recently I have become the oldest. I have hidden my age on Facebook so people don’t know! I suddenly started to feel a bit scared of coming across outdated. (An intern mentioned spending New Years at the airport, and I wasn’t sure if he was catching a flight, or at some new trendy club called airport I hadn’t heard of…!) I am not sure why I started to feel like this because I often forget how old I am. Bugger that! Age is a label. I see some people making it define them and it’s great if you are 87, have aged gracefully and are still lucky enough to be active and well. It’s not so great if you’re younger than that and using age as a label to couch-surf oneself over the hill faster than time is doing it. If you look for something you will always find it, so look for timelessness, fun and no limitations. With the stresses of life, we are not all so lucky to age gracefully on a physical level, but on a mental level we can stop and even reverse the ageing. I see this and admire this in family members a generation ahead of me who enjoy life to the full despite some health challenges, but never ever once go on about their ages!

Spend more money on experiences, and less on things

Take that trip, go jumping / swimming / dancing / hiking. Watch that movie/ do that cooking course / learn meditation / eat out. In the last year, of everything I have spent cash on, the experience-based ones have brought me the most fun, and joy. Add to that the excitement and anticipation beforehand, and the memories afterwards, plus the social aspect, it sure beats all the ‘things’ that I have or would like to buy. Saying you have ‘nothing to show for it’ is not always true – and memories never end up in land-fills!

Spend more on experiences,and less on things.

Let your inner child out to play

What can I say here? I’m lucky enough to have a two-year old nephew, so I get to run around, swing from Jungle Gyms (on request), pull faces, play on the floor, laugh at random things and jump on beds. Rediscovering the joy and freedom of such makes me realise one should always do this. Whether in young company or on your own. Find time to do something that lets your inner child out to play. That’s a part of you that needs to be honoured, and exercised too.

Stop with the negativity

It’s so easy to do: Grumbling about the traffic, getting ratty about being back at work, thinking bad inward thoughts, the year often starts with some unplanned turbulence, whatever it may be… Ironically, it seems so easy to be negative about all the things we can’t really change – but the one thing we can change is our attitude. Stop grumbling, stop being so hard on yourself, stop being unkind, stop having those same endless monologues about the stuff that’s not going well, and the stuff that you don’t like. Start being more positive, especially with yourself, and you’ll start to see a difference in everything around you – after all it’s tough enough adjusting to a new year – a blank calendar (if you see it like that), without having to be your own (or someone else’s’) worst critic.


Holding on for dear life can sometimes cut off circulation.

Let go of possessive people, or possessive feelings. Life is for living, wings are for flying. My wish for you this year is that you are given enough space to live, to fly – and that you in turn give it back. If anyone is squashing the life out of you, now’s the time to start looking at that.

Be your own best friend

By honouring at least one of the sentiments above, you’ll be honouring yourself. Be good to yourself, be kind to yourself, be your own best friend and have the best year ever.

And never forget – it doesn’t have to be all about a ‘new year’. Monday’s a new week. Today’s a new day. This moment is a new moment. Step-by-step, just trying to live a better life and be a better person than you were the previous week / day / moment is the best you can do for yourself – that’s what I’m trying to do.


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