Word of the Year

What if planning for the new year felt thrilling? Exciting? Fun and invigorating? I don’t know about you, but when I was in the habit of making yearly resolutions, they most certainly did not feel like that.  Coming up with a New Year’s promises to myself was more like an exercise in shame and disappointment; it seemed to highlight all the ways my previous year hadn’t quite measured up.

Add to that the stress of planning goals and changes for the next year, and it became a recipe for disaster! At the end of 2013, I changed the way I thought about my coming year and instantly, everything felt lighter, easier, and more loving.

What did I do? I chose a word of the year. In 2015, I picked the word trust. In 2014, my word was simplify. My “word of the year” anchors my daily life. It helps me focus. It guides the work I do, the choices I make, and the way I navigate my everyday. When I feel adrift, I remember my word of the year and come back to myself & my goals for 2016.

word-of-the-year-2015-bMy word for 2016? Spaciousness. Sounds nice & relaxing, doesn’t it?

This means making space in my day for a spontaneous game of fetch with my dogs or a leisurely stroll through the farmers’ market. It means finally making space for the book I’ve always wanted to write. It means prepping food on Sunday in a non-stressful manner… and then having space to kick back and enjoy my evenings without worrying about what’s for dinner during the week.

Spaciousness1-editedIt’s resisting the desire to schedule, map out, and micro-manage every single last detail. It’s saying “no” comfortably to make room to say “YES!” It’s greeting life and opportunities with open arms.

But the word that works for me is not necessarily the word that works for you. Maybe you’d like 2016 to feel focused or connected or inspired. Or perhaps you want ease or to be more playful.

Choosing a word of the year has grounded me and changed the course of my next trip around the sun—and I want that for you, too! Here are three steps that will get you started:

1. Think about how you want your life to look and feel
In order to keep traditional resolutions, we usually end up counting calories, dollars, or social media followers. We track numbers and assess our success based on said numbers.

But when you navigate your new year with a single word as your beacon, the new year slowly shifts into something easier and sweeter. A “successful” year is a year that looks and feels the way we want it to look and feel.

Peer through the window of your Future Dream Life and really imagine the specifics. Would it look like Fridays off, getting a manicure with your best friend? Would it look like more quality time with your kids? How would you spend that time with them? What would you talk about? Would your Future Dream Life look like a night out in the city? Who would you be with? What would you be wearing?

And how do you want it to feel? Do you want to feel free? Supported? Seen? Imagine the way you want your heart and mind to feel every day and then choose a word accordingly.

2. Trust your intuition
Choosing your word of the year is a lot easier than you’d expect. You don’t necessarily have to labor over this decision; you likely don’t need to turn this over in your mind a thousand times.

Really think about the past year. What worked? What didn’t? If you’re honest with yourself, you probably already know how you’d like next year to be different. If a word immediately springs to mind and it feels right in your gut, you’ve found your word. Congratulations!

3. Now consider how you can apply this word to your whole life
“Supported”’ at home means something different than “supported” in your professional life. And “connected” to your body is different than being “connected” to your partner.

How does your word apply in the context of work? At home? Does it affect the way you move your body or the choices you make around food? Will it change the way you use technology?

When you take the time to imagine the way your word applies to all the areas of your life, you’re ready to make that word happen—everywhere.

Now it’s your turn to identify your word for the new year. Good luck!

One Healthy Breakdown: Wishing you a year filled with health, happiness, and finding just the right word!

Come on, Get HAPPY

I just watched The Happy Movie andI highly, highly recommend it. Here’s a few facts, tidbits, quotes, perspectives, and words of wisdom learned from this captivation of global happiness.

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  • “The Constitution only guarantees the American People the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” –Benjamin Franklin
  • Positive Psychology (the study of happiness) became the most popular class at Harvard.
  • Genetics determine 50% of happiness, circumstances determine 10%, and intentions determine the remaining 40%. Set intentions.
  • Dopamine naturally starts depleting after our teen years; however, positive experiences (like exercise, socialization, and love) produce dopamine in the body.
  • Tangible goods produce fleeting happiness; compassion produces long-term contentment.
  • We always have a choice to be happy, or not. When it rains, we can either hide or embrace it.
  • There is no such thing as pleasure without pain. Both are necessary to be happy.
  • While the United State’s economic growth has doubled, our happiness level as a nation has remained static.
  • The top consistency among happy people, both individually, and as a culture, seems to be a close, supportive family and friends.
  • Japan has been deemed the least happy nation due to stress. Japanese people have died from forcing themselves to be more efficient. Japan actually has a name for this, when the person’s heart just stops, due to nothing but exhaustion, is “Karoshi.”
  • Denmark has been labeled the happiest country. Danish citizens not only receive free education and healthcare, but also tend to co-habitate; numerous families will reside in small homes or apartments close together, decreasing solitude. There is always someone there to share conversation, a meal, and even pain. Families save time and money by sharing chores and benefits and there is constant socialization among all ages.
  • Instead of looking at society selfishly and thinking “what does he/she have that I don’t?” if we think “what do I have that I can give to others?” we would all constantly help each other and the world would be a better place. That is true community.
  • Fundamentalists, who build their life mission on hate and segregation, are proven less happy.
  • People live longest on Okinawa Island, the only part of Japan known for happiness. Community is the center of the culture. Citizens shared their secrets to longevity: hard work, lots of sleep, sweat, neighborly love, no harm to others, and…sake. They even bury people in one communal coffin to allow for infinite connection.
  • When humans are given the choice to choose competition or cooperation, we almost always choose cooperation. We find cooperation intrinsically rewarding.
  • One uniquely happy Bushmen tribe values each member’s individual wellbeing as one. When one member of the tribe is sick, the whole tribe unites for group-healing. One member explains: “being together, that’s what makes us happy. To laugh is very important.”
  • Compassion is part of our genetic makeup; it’s in our blood.
  • Intention can physically change your brain. Gratitude and acts of kindness have been proven to boost happiness on a cellular level. Happiness can be seen as a skill we must practice often.
  • Lifting others spirits makes life meaningful.
  • The formula for happiness = play + new experiences + friends and family + meaning + appreciation. All of which are free. Things we can all have.
  • The more happiness you have, the more everyone has.

One Healthy Breakdown: Watch The Happy Movie. Practice happiness. Every single day.