2018 is in the past. However, experiences from 2018 will be with you for life. It is up to you to learn from the experiences and let them help you become a better version of yourself. No matter if the experiences are good or bad it is ultimately up to you to decide how you want to respond and how much power you are going to give away. I am a firm believer that we can gain our power back by facing whatever we gave our power away to. Some moments are so strong, so powerful that they strip you of some of your power. As long as you are still here then you have the ability to regain that power once again but it will take facing that moment head on and truly seeing it for what it is.
For me, 2018 was the most life experiencing year. I dealt with a lot of change, some I chose, some I had no control over. From traveling to a part of the world I had never seen before, to losing my father, to so many friends getting married and having kids, to moving across the country and starting a new business. There were many ups and downs. Having to find myself through the grief and change was one of the biggest challenges I had ever faced. I give past years experiences a ton of credit for helping me persevere through the hard times and finally finding myself again.
At the beginning of a new year, I always find it useful to create a list of experiences that you want to have or behaviors that you want to continue to cultivate. Over the years some of the behaviors I wanted to cultivate were meditating, moving frequently, becoming more empathetic and understanding, becoming less negative, reading more, trying new ways to move and so on. For each behavior or experience, I would do some research and try to find stories from people who have already done what I wanted to do. I am thankful for the time I had committed to cultivating each behavior and really give it credit for helping me survive a year full of so many mixed emotions.
One of the more recent and useful behaviors that I have cultivated is meditation. I had discovered meditation when I was reading about Alzheimer's and stress. Before I had built this practice I viewed it as some hippy-dippy ish and thought it was all about pacifying your aggression. However, once I read up on its effect on stress management and mental health I started to become more and more curious. What I have found since starting to meditate a little over 2 years ago is that I am able to notice my mental state much sooner than I was before. I am able to bring awareness to any negative thoughts that are going on better than I could before. I am not perfect and I still have moments of lethargy or anger, however, they are far less frequent than at any other point in my life. During “arguments” I am able to hear the other side better and keep myself from allowing my emotions to take over my mouth ( also known as amygdala hijack = emotions take over your brain. From the book Incognito). During this heightened emotional climate that we are in, I have found that having this skill is extremely useful and highly recommend developing this ability. Using the app headspace is an amazing place to start. When I started to build the habit, I began with very short bouts of meditation, only one minute at a time until I was doing 4-5 days per week consistently. Everyone has a minute a day to spare and if you think you don’t then you are the person who needs this the most.
Another habit I am hella thankful to have cultivated is strength training. Developing strength in a systematic manner has been incredible for many reasons. The ability to know how to goal set and break your goal into smaller chunks and habits is a useful skill no matter what you do in life. Also, it teaches you patience. Knowing that you can’t rush things and some things you cannot change. You can change yourself but you cannot change outside things to a certain degree. If you want to lift 500 lbs you can’t change the 500 lbs your only choice is to change yourself, become stronger. If you want a person to stop doing an annoying behavior, you may be able to get them to change however, you’d be better served to “simply” change yourself to not become triggered by their behavior. I am a believer in human optimization, becoming the best version of yourself, and I view strength training as a very important part of the equation. Meditation helps you own your mind and your body and strength training helps to reinforce the strength of both.
There are many inevitables that we have to deal with in life. Your ability to adapt and change is crucial for how you are able to deal with any moment that presents yourself. If you are someone who loves comfort, traditions, and wishes everything would just stay the same, I challenge you to seek out some new, seek out some discomfort, seek out creating new habits because you will want to know that you are able to change. You will want to know that you are strong and have been strong before when times get hard. Everything can’t stay the same, it’s a reality of the world. Becoming adaptable has been the most important trait throughout all of any living organisms’ history and if you wish to thrive for life, then start to hone the skill now.