Take Care of Yourself First in 2014

3 years ago

There are less than two weeks of 2013 left. End of the year holidays are coming and going, along with all the joy and frustration they bring. One of the many traditions being practiced is the creation of New Year's resolutions, along with the expected failure to uphold the proposed commitments.  Humans have a fantastic ability to complain about the uncontrollable, about others, and about ourselves too. This ability is only matched by our certainty that we would be so happy if only (insert personalized dream solution here) would happen.

The trouble (as we all must admit to ourselves) is that even when we get what we want, problems still abound. I'm not going over anything groundbreaking here, but seeing as we're still ignoring our own advice, it bears repeating.

For all of their maligned simplicity, our everyday platitudes are usually pretty accurate (even when they're contradictory). We throw out platitudes in the same way that we vow to lose weight, quit smoking, and start exercising every time we buy a new calendar. Our expendable truisms are truly noteworthy when we actually take them in. Meaning and importance wanes when we hear them again and again, yet when we're ready to hear them for the nuggets of truth they are, everything changes.

This is life.

It is what it is.

I feel your pain.

You'll be fine.

Time will tell.

You have to know your limitations.

Just think positive.

This too shall pass.

Just be yourself.

Tomorrow's another day.

You can choose to be happy.

For all the talking we do, few among us are communication connoisseurs. In fact, you should count yourself fortunate if you can successfully translate your emotions into spoken words. What are we really saying when we reach out with these cliches? Are we being lazy or are we finding familiar comfort in uncomfortable situations?

Telling each other that everything will be all right and hoping for the best is often the most we can do. We want to tell our friends and family that we understand, we've been there before, and that they're not alone in their pain and heartache. We say it will get better, just wait, just work for it. If only we can convince them that happiness is a choice, maybe we can convince ourselves. But can we simply choose to be happy?

I think the answer is that we can choose to try. A complex symphony (with an accompanying dance, book prequel, and an active twitter feed) is one way to describe the way our bodies work. It's hard to keep our heads on straight when our emotions can be upturned by a single off-key note (or a typo in a week old tweet).

Victoria told us how we can literally rewire our brains to think happy thoughts and David Foster Wallace eloquently described how we can add meaning to the doldrums. SuperBetter helps turn personal well-being into a real life video game. These tools enable us to be our best selves by changing two things: how we think and how we act.

Too often we are bogged down by the weight of what we cannot do. Trapped in a cycle of complaints and inaction, we stymie our potential. We strain in an attempt to have it all -- huge house, successful career, perfect marriage, brilliant children, loads of free time and money to consume every form of entertainment. Because that's what happiness looks like, right? Not so much.

Our lives improve when we engage, when we connect. Transforming ourselves requires that we take care of ourselves first, everything else is secondary. In truth, it is only by taking care of ourselves that we can improve anything. Seriously. Figure out how you relax, what you enjoy, and what you have to offer. Then act on what you learn.

Image: Amysphere via Flickr

Sometimes we convince ourselves that taking care of ourselves is selfish, but the opposite is true. Once you take care of yourself, taking care of others is easy. If anything, not taking care of yourself is selfish. If we aren't at our best, we can't give our all to make our lives and our world better. Resolve to be a better you and follow through, it's all you can do. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with others. Let 2014 be a year of answered questions.

There will be bad days. There will be tough choices. There will be sadness and anger. This is life. It is what it is. You'll be fine. Just think positive and be yourself.

Originally published on my blog: http://muggleinconverse.wordpress.com/

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