Happy New Year!
As we plunge into 2023, we see stories galore on how to best plan for and implement our many well-intended New Year’s Resolutions. Whether it be how to live a healthier and more physically fit life through consistent exercise, refining our diets with fruits and vegetables, and/or mindful meditation and yoga to decrease stress. All great advice and simple, positive, steps to weave into our daily routines.
Though, let us not overlook our psychological well-being, as it is just as important as our physical health. Focusing in on strengthening our mental, spiritual, and emotional faculties is invaluable, and something not often emphasized in New Year’s Resolutions. Mental health experts consistently support the theory that maintaining a positive outlook helps relieve stress, and leads to a longer life span, better relationships, and improved coping skills.
I want to share something which happened recently. I had a conversation with a gentleman by the name of Pastor Gary. This pastor had recently lost his wife of 32 years, and I was amazed by his positive outlook. An ordained minister of 23 years who mentors internationally on cruise ships, he missed his wife immensely, though his overwhelming attitude of respect, loyalty, and love for his wife, along with love of his religion and spirituality, was exponentially more powerful than that of his grief. What I took away from this quick, but substantive conversation was that he was so thankful for the years he had with her, the life they made, the children and grandchildren they created, he had no time to be sad. In summary, Pastor Gary’s love overpowered his sadness. He said, “How can I be sad? Sure, I miss her every day; we created a wonderful life, but I have had more happiness in my 60 years than most people will ever have in their lifetime, so that is a lot to be thankful for.”
Wow!! The conversation was so impactful I began thinking about the power of positive thinking to support our emotional, psychological, spiritual, and overall mental faculties. Pastor Gary is a perfect example; he looks at the “glass being half full” versus “half empty,” thus, he is positively feeding his emotions to better manage his loss.
So, how can we better manage our trials and tribulations like Pastor Gary? Let us start with ways to help avoid negative thought processing, while simultaneously flooding our mind with positive thinking.
Here are some ideas:
– A successful day starts before you fall asleep the evening before. Write a goal for the following day and conquer that goal daily, thereafter.
– Spend time with positive, uplifting people.
– Read inspirational material.
– Contribute to the community; philanthropy warms your heart.
– Recognize negative thoughts; immediately replace them with positive ones.
– Offer compliments to others, consistently.
– Random acts of kindness are also heartwarming.
From a clinical standpoint, by flooding your mind with repetitive positivity, chemical changes happen in the brain. When positive and/or optimistic thoughts are generated, cortisol (stress hormone) decreases, and the brain produces serotonin, creating a feeling of well-being. When serotonin levels are normal, one feels happier, calmer, less anxious, and more focused. So, now that we have strategic ideas on attaining a calmer, positive outlook, how do we begin our spiritual journey? First, it is a common perception you need to be religious to be spiritual. I disagree. Spirituality is personal. It is not a church or belief system. Spirituality comes from within when you are reflective and intentional; those moments you commune with your ‘personal’ higher power.
Here are some simple ideas to start your spiritual journey:
– Make a wishlist of goals: Include fostering self-love, self-compassion, self-acceptance, self-respect, self-appreciation, and self-gratitude.
– Spend 15 minutes each morning with the 555 practice: Spend five minutes in meditation, five minutes stretching, and five minutes mentally preparing for the day.
– Learn to forgive: Forgiveness is imperative for spiritual growth. Write a forgiveness list including all the people who you believe have wronged you, and then proactively forgive them. Yes, we can all do this!
– Start a gratitude journal: A journal gives us a reflection on the events of the day and helps us better remember those incidents which made us smile.
– Laugh often: Laughing carries positive energy.
– Learn to love yourself: You must first learn to lose self-degradation and doubt to attain this. When we choose to love ourselves, our hearts open.
– Eliminate envy: Spirituality and selfishness do not mesh. To become more spiritually oriented, it is important to decrease unnecessary envy. Begin by simply congratulating people on their successes.
– Find a spiritual community: Be around like-minded people. Surround yourself with others who are on a spiritual journey.
As a final thought on your journey to spirituality, always be truthful. According to Kadeem Alston-Roman, a spiritual advisor and co-founder of Full Force Wellness, to achieve a higher state of spirituality, your aura needs to be as clean as possible. “When someone lies, gray clouds emanate from their aura. If you want your light to shine through, make sure you always tell the truth.”
Additionally, take time to enjoy the small, positive, moments. Slow down and notice what you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste, by paying attention. These actions will help with spiritual connectivity. I hope you will think about integrating these simple, daily rituals to your New Year’s Resolution list for a more positive, spirituality-based outlook. Let’s do this together and experience a self-loving, gratitude-driven, spiritually blessed 2023.