By now, probably half of the New Year’s resolutions made have been broken. The reason is simple. People make resolutions in the moment often without a lot of thought. However, they don’t truly commit to change.

 

Setting Intention

 

Failed New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be the next chapter in your story. By making a strong intention around a resolution, you can change it from something that has a very low chance of success into something that can transform your life.

 

Start by creating a strong intention statement. A good intention statement is simple, easy to remember, is strongly connected to you, contains your emotions, is in your words, and contains positive action words.

 

For example, a common resolution is to exercise more in the coming year. That is a nice statement, but is not very powerful and a high percentage of the time people will fail to meet the goal. However, transforming that statement into an intention, such as “Exercising daily invigorates me and gives me amazing energy,” tells a different story. First, it is specific. Exercising daily is very different than a resolution to exercise more than last year. Secondly, it contains action and emotional energy.

 

Connecting

 

As important as it is to make the intention strong and full of emotion, you will only succeed if the words, your goals, your actions, and your rewards are strongly connected with who you are. For instance, if your reward is that it will make someone else happy or it is because the doctor says that it is good for you, you will struggle to keep your resolution.

 

Resolutions and intentions only work if they are for you. Thus, the connection to your words, your goals, etc. are of upmost importance. Once you decide to make a change for yourself, it becomes much more doable. You can set rewards for reaching goals that relate to who you are and what you hope to achieve. If you love to read, you can reward yourself with a new e-book for reaching a goal. However, if you love to cook, you might reward yourself with a cooking class or by making a favorite recipe.

 

Expectations

 

The expectation for most resolutions is that they will fail. If you are like most people, even a statement of “It will be different this time,” will likely be accompanied, at least internally, by doubt. The reason is simple. The word resolution has become synonymous with temporary attempt to change that will end in failure. The dictionary might not define it that way, but that is how people think of resolutions.

 

Therefore, even if you are committed to a change, just the word resolution will get eye rolls from the people around you. The word intention sets a very different expectation in your mind and the minds of the people around you. Even the word “intend” or “intention” sounds stronger than “resolution.”

 

You can intend a wonderful life into existence. Amazing things can happen, you just need to be open to them and expect that they will occur!

 

connecting in 2020

 

 

Welcome to 2020! Or, as Barbara Walters would say, “I’m Barbara Walters, and this is 2020.

 

Twenty-twenty is a great number with the potential to be an amazing year. Only once in a century are the first two digits of the year and the second two digits of the year the same. So, this is your one chance to experience this phenomenon – unless you are currently 100 years old or plan to hang around till 2121.

 

Perfect Vision

 

Dates like 1919 and 2020 roll easily off the tongue making them candidates to be included in advertising and more. However, 2020 is much more. It is also associated with having perfect vision. Both eyesight and hindsight can be 20/20. Thus, many believe that 2020 has the potential to be a wonderful and insightful year.

 

Connect & Reconnect

 

In order to create a wonderful 2020 for yourself, consider making connecting and re-connecting a daily habit. Connecting can come in many forms: connecting with people, physically or virtually, connecting objects, connecting ideas and more.

 

When desiring to connect with people, look around you. Are there people that you encounter regularly with whom you really never connect? They are a great place to start. Try to understand their point of view, their feelings and who they really are. Extend this practice to new people that you meet. And, consider reconnecting with people from your past.

 

New Eyes

 

Similarly, look at activities, passions, and objects with new eyes. Do those things speak to you differently now than they did in the past? Connect to them in new ways. Also, consider reconnecting with an activity or a passion that you sat aside years ago when life got busy or you were encouraged to focus elsewhere.

 

Connect The Dots

 

Consider how other things are connected. Connect the dots between behaviors and actions. Look for connections between very different things and find an entirely new perspective. For example, Steve Jobs sat in on a calligraphy class where he learned about serif and sans serif typefaces (fonts). He was fascinated by the artistry of the characters. At the time, it was simply something that peaked his interest. However, later he applied what he learned and created a choice of fonts for Mac – something that was unheard of in the computing world at that time.

 

Steve Jobs’ connection between calligraphy and computer fonts not only changed the world of computing, but extended into digital media, print media, and beyond. Yet, he had no idea when he was learning calligraphy where it would lead.

 

At a graduation speech at Stanford years later he said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

 

Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow

 

So, as you go through 2020 consider if something you have encountered in the past applies to what you are doing today – even if they are two very different things. Also, pay close attention to the things you are now encountering as they may apply to something tomorrow.

 

In the words of Doc Brown (Back to the Future), “Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.”

 

 

seasons of life - winter

 

 

In the previous article in this series, we discussed the autumn season of human life.

 

Winter Sets In

 

As humans move from the autumn season of life into winter, they like plants, become more frail. Like the stalk weakening, adults in this season of life must work harder to maintain their strength. The wrinkles and scars of life become more readily apparent as the days go by. And, keeping the aches and pains at bay becomes a greater task.

 

As time goes on, those in the winter of their life require more assistance from those in the summer and autumn seasons of life. Tasks that they could easily do a few years ago become more challenging. Some of them give in easily allowing and even welcoming care by others. However, some elders fight this process every step of the way determined to maintain their independence as long as possible.

 

Although many people remain quite active through most of the winter season, most are retired and have more time to themselves than they have ever had. It is during these quieter days that many adults in the winter season reminisce about the other seasons of life. Having experienced each season, they have a good understanding of what the younger generations are experiencing.

 

Some of them are quite satisfied with their experiences and happy to be where they are today while others long for the previous seasons of life. Others focus on their regrets of what they did not do when they had the opportunity. They may also have a feeling of loss as their family lives their own lives and their friends begin to slip away.

 

More Dependence

 

As the winter season proceeds, it often is like the reversal of spring. In the winter season, the person often becomes more and more dependent on others for assistance. The quality of life for those in the winter season can be sustained longer, minimizing the dependence on assistance, with consistent nurturing.

 

As a society, we have forgotten the value of the elders. In years gone by, elders would have lived with their children, a grandchild, or a niece/nephew as they aged. The elder would have been integrated into the family and called upon for their wisdom and knowledge. Today, these elders tend to live on their own as long as possible. Eventually, they are moved to facilities where their care and nurturing are primarily provided by staff rather than family.

 

In conclusion, having relationships with others who are in different seasons of their lives enriches a person’s life. Likewise, nurturing others, even if they don’t think they need it, will make the life experiences better for everyone involved.

 

 

seasons of life

 

 

In the previous article in this series, we discussed the how humans change as they move through the blooming of the summer season.

 

Autumn Begins

 

As the autumn season of life begins to set in, plants find their brilliant colors of summer fading. The stalk that was once strong and tall begins to slightly weaken. The bug bites and sun damage begin to be noticeable and the leaves begin to yellow. Likewise, humans entering the autumn season start to show the battle scars of life. The imperfections begin to be more noticeable, the hair thins, and more aches and pains are felt.

 

In the autumn of life, adults often are caring for their children as they move through the last years of spring and into the summer seasons. At the same time, people in this part of their life may be in a position where they have to begin providing care for a parent or other family member who is in the winter of their life. Thus, as their duties parenting their children are beginning to dwindle, their duties parenting their parents start to ramp up.

 

Being in the position to care for others, people in the autumn season of life may find themselves receiving little or no nurturing from others in their life. They are the ones that everyone else expects to provide the nurturing.

 

The Purpose of Life

 

It is during the autumn season that people are most likely to start questioning their purpose in life. They begin to look for more in life than their job. They want something greater than simply a way to sustain themselves. Additionally, their children are grown or nearly grown and they feel a bit lost, no longer having a laser focus on raising their children. Also, because their parents are starting to need some help from time to time, they see their future and feel compelled to find their way to leave a legacy and/or find something that gives them vitality.

 

As they see that winter is coming, they may also spend time yearning for the days of spring and summer. This yearning also contributes to the desire for more. It may be one of the reasons that people in the autumn of life are most likely to be the ones that gather the family together at the holidays. However, they may use those in the winter season as the rationale for the gathering.

 

In the final article in this series, we will discuss the winter season.

 

seasons of life

 

 

The spring of human life is much like that of a flower. First a foundation of rich soil must be laid down that will support life. Often this foundation is created with old plants that have wilted away. With humans, it is only because of their ancestors that a child can be born. The ancestors may have left for the spirit world, but they have laid down a foundation in DNA. Like with soil, they provide a child with nutrients, such as, genetic memory, talents, and physical attributes that will help them to thrive.

 

A Rich Foundation

 

With a rich foundation, the seed sprouts, grows larger, and becomes more fully formed over time. During this season humans, like plants, tend to be the most perfect. Plants in this stage have the least amount of damage from the sun, bugs, or weather. Likewise, young children generally haven’t been ruined by drama in the world or limitations being placed upon them.

 

Children, like young plants, need plenty of nourishment. Plants often need someone to water them, ensure they are getting the right amount of sunlight, and the proper nutrients. Similarly, children need food, clothing, and proper care, as they are not able to fend for themselves. In both cases, there is a tendency to need less care as they mature.

 

The damage to children, like to the plant, increases over time. Unfortunately, there are some children, like plants, that are greatly damaged during the spring season. For plants, this can be too much sun, too much rain, other weather events, or neglect. Similarly, some children experience traumas, neglect, or are given responsibilities far beyond their years. One of the big contributors to neglect is the tendency today to depend on electronic babysitters. When parents depend too much on devices for care, children will miss out on part of their development.

 

Strong Connections

 

If children are lucky, they will have a strong connection to people in other seasons of life. It is through these connections that they will learn and grow emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Growing in physical stature without having the connections and nourishments to grow in all dimensions leaves a child without the proper development to thrive throughout all the seasons of their life.

 

In addition, connections to people in other seasons of life give children an understanding of people of all ages. This helps them to recognize and respect different perspectives. And, it will help them as they transition to other seasons of their life.

 

During this season of life, children are generally very curious and put their energy into learning and growing. However, as they mature, they often begin to yearn for the next season of life, desiring summer to arrive before they have completed their spring season.

 

In the next article in this series, we will discuss the summer season.

 

 

past present future

 

Our past, present, and future are all strongly inter-connected. If not for the past, we would not be the people we are today or having the experiences of the moment. Likewise, without our experiences today, we would not have our future of tomorrow.

 

Accepting The Past

 

Although many people would like to change the past, it is far better to accept the past for what it is. Whether it was good or bad, it was an element that helped make you who you are. When we don’t accept the past, it continues to dominate the present. Thus, the past doesn’t simply contribute to our present, but it controls it.

 

Accepting that the past does not mean we have to approve of things that happened during that era. Neither does it mean that we ride on our laurels of the past.

 

It is best when we simply acknowledge that in the past we have been in good situations and bad situations. Likewise, we have done things we are proud of and things that we would have liked to have done differently. Still, all those things remain in the past.

 

100% Responsibility

 

Sometimes we have challenges moving past things that others have done in the past. It is important to understand that we can and should take responsibility for those things that we have done. However, it is unhealthy to take responsibility for what someone else has done to us or someone else.

 

If we perceive something was done to us, we can use that to make us stronger and to move forward. If we try to own the other person’s actions towards us, we are giving them an excuse and not allowing them to own up to their responsibility. It also gives power to their actions.

 

As humans, we want to “fix” every problem, person, and situation. The reality is that we cannot. We can only take responsibility for actions that we have taken, learn from our errors, and move forward committed to live a good life.

 

Living Today

 

We must realize that although we cannot change the past, we can take control of today. It is critical to realize that the actions we take today will shape our future and may affect the future of others, as well. This isn’t to say that every decision made each day has to be fully analyzed for impacts on the future.

It would be impossible and frankly unnecessary to analyze every decision. For example, deciding to do the dishes or wait until later isn’t likely to have a big impact on our future. However, some decisions have long-term impacts. For example, deciding to check text messages while driving could completely change multiple people’s lives. Thus, it is important to check in occasionally and ask “Am I on track to make a better tomorrow?”

 

The Future

 

This all leads us to the future, which will become the present and then the past. Living in the future is similar to living in the past. Although the past and present affect the future, focusing on the future and neglecting the present will lead us down a path of regret.  

 

We need to plan for the future and realize the impact of our actions on the future. However, if we live only for the future, we will fail to live at all. For example, if we always save every dime for tomorrow, we will never spend it as tomorrow never comes.

 

Therefore, we must understand that the past, present, and future are intertwined. Remember, although the past helps make you who you are, it does not define you. No matter your current circumstances, you have the choice to act today in a way that will create a brighter tomorrow!

 

Looking Deeper

 

As we have discussed in other posts, humans come in contact with millions of stimuli every day. Out of necessity, we ignore many of the stimuli and gloss over others. This helps us to get through each day without being overwhelmed. However, we lose a lot if we never stop and really take a deep look at things.

 

Looking Outside The Lines

 

Often the information that is intended for our attention is well defined and within a graph, report, or painting. It is important to look not only at the image or message that the author or painter is trying to convey, but also look at what else is surrounding the intended message. Then, consider what is excluded. For a painting, look at the frame, the mat, and even the wall where the painting is hung. Look for additional information outside of the painting that supports or contradicts the message of the painting. Lastly, consider what is not included in the painting.

 

The same is true of reports and graphs. Look at the information that supports the core information, information about the authors, and information about the magazine or other source. Also, consider what the authors did not say. For instance, if the information is based on a study, is the size and location of the study included in the information?

 

Digging Deeper

 

It is important to look at what supports this “prepared” information. To do this, look at your child’s homework and see where they are struggling instead of just looking at their grade. Likewise, look at the sources of reports and graphs. Analyze if those are valid sources. Are the trends shown in the report only based on the experience of 100 people? If so, do you consider it a large enough study for you to accept that the trend is meaningful?

 

It also means researching news stories and looking at articles from multiple perspectives. What were their sources? Were the sources used for the article selected to represent only one point of view? Do other sources support the perspective of the article?

 

The Little Details

 

Take a deeper look at the little details. This isn’t about seeing the trees instead of the forest. It is about seeing the small insects crawling out of the cracks in the bark of the tree and then noticing how the veins of the leaves form an unusual image that reminds you of a bear claw.

 

For a painting, look at small details of the image. For instance, look at the brush stroke. Is it different in different parts of the painting? Does that seem significant? Does the brush stroke tell a story?

 

For an article, graph, or other information, look at the details and the representation of the information. For instance, on a graph is the scale such that it is misleading? Likewise, look at small details that may be the focus when they are not the primary part of the article. On the flip side, look for more significant details that are left out or downplayed in the article.

 

Sounds, Smells, Texture, and Taste Count, Too

 

Our investigation of things in our environment is not limited to what we can experience with our sight. We can learn a lot by really listening, taking time to experience the smells in the room, touching the surface of something to feel the texture, and tasting edible items. Not all senses apply to every item. For instance, a person is not generally going to taste a painting. However, they might smell the paint.

 

It is by choosing to really deeply experience some items in our environment that we gain greater knowledge and understanding of our world. When we allow too many stimuli to be dismissed, we are on auto-pilot and aren’t really experiencing anything. Find something each day to truly experience!

 

 

 

Communities, whether it refers to people in a geographical area, a church family, a school, or another group of individuals, sometimes have a need for healing. In some cases, this is a long-term need arising from neglect, lack of work, or on-going violence. In other cases, the need arises in relationship to a specific tragedy or natural disaster.

 

Healing a community is similar to healing an individual. However, the process varies a bit and can be complicated by having a number of people involved. On the other hand, the people of the community can also be helpful in assisting each other in their healing.

 

Deciding to Heal

Just like with a person, the community first needs to decide to heal. The challenge with this is that different people are of different mindsets with regards to healing and not everyone is on the same timeline with regards to grieving over what has happened. Likewise, those that desire to heal may remain on autopilot for some time simply dealing with the things that have to be done.

 

Support from Outside

 

Each situation is different. In the case of a hurricane, for example, outside assistance may be needed for shelter, food, debris removal, and rebuilding. However, the ultimate healing comes from within the community. The Red Cross and other volunteers cannot heal for the community. Likewise, they cannot force the community to heal. The only thing they can do is support the community while they heal, much like a cast supports someone’s leg while a broken bone heals.

 

Healing Within

 

Different types of traumas require different amount of healing. Likewise, they require different amounts of time to heal. For instance, healing from an earthquake that made various structures in the community uninhabitable might not require the same level of healing as an event that takes several people’s lives.

 

Traumatic Events

 

For people outside the community, the biggest challenge is to allow the community to heal on its own timeline without imposing deadlines or expectations. After 9/11, there was tremendous support from across the country and around the world. However, over time that support for New York and the country in general waned. Thus, the expectations from outside the communities most significantly impacted changed. Yet, especially in New York City, many people are still dealing with the trauma. First responders, in particular, continue to have both emotional and physical issues as a result of their efforts that day.

 

Within the communities impacted by 9/11, the challenge from day one was that various people were impacted in different ways and to a different extent. The same is true of any community impacted by a traumatic event. Each person has a different timeline for grieving related to the event. Thus, after a year some people may be moving on with their life and really spend very little time thinking the event. Meanwhile, others may still be struggling to accept what happened.

 

Long-Term Situations

 

In situations, such as, economic depression, all of the above perspectives apply. The community may need a leg up, but will only truly heal when members of the community make a decision to heal. These situations have different challenges as the issues they are facing have often developed over generations. In these cases, it may be more difficult to gain the momentum to heal despite the desire to move forward.

 

It takes longer in these cases to attain true healing as the trauma has been reinforced over and over. People may have even lost their belief in healing, thinking that things cannot improve. One of the biggest things people outside these communities can do is to spread hope without expectation. If they help these people believe, the people will then be able to start healing.

 

Limiting Actions

 

One worst things people outside the community can do is to use these situations and the people involved to make political statements or to support some perspective that they would like others to believe.   Actions of this nature limit the healing of the communities. In some cases, actions with these types of motives may even cause additional hurt and damage.

 

The Best Action

 

The best action outsiders can take to help a community heal is to provide support and encouragement to the individuals in the community as well as to the community leaders. Within the community, it is important for each person to remember that each person will heal on his or her own schedule. No person can speed up another person’s healing nor should they judge that someone has healed too fast. As each individual focuses on their own healing, they will create an environment for those around them to heal more quickly allowing the community to gain overall momentum in its healing.

 

Remember, healing is possible. It just takes time.