Pull Back and Reflect on How You Can Best Live Each Day
I know it is tempting to set aside a certain occasion to mark the intention of starting anew with some aspect of your behavior or thought patterns, but the truth is, very few of us can start or eliminate a habit if the only motivation we have is a number on the calendar—even if it IS the start of a New Year.
In the Italian culture, one tries to live a “dolce vita” (sweet life) every day, and make every day the best it can be. Simple rituals that bring satisfaction are key: A healthy light supper with family; a leisurely chat with a friend while strolling through the town square; a visit to the art museum to lift a sullen mood; or stopping at your local grocer’s to exchange ideas about what to make for dinner that evening. The small joys of life create happiness. They also balance the less pleasant events that crop up for all of us.
If you consider each day a gift, you begin to pay attention to which aspects of your day support your well-being, and learn to discern what detracts from it. Roman Emperor Marco Aurelio encouraged his readers to observe nature all around us and note how neither birds nor bees, nor any other plant or animal violates its nature; rather each respects their natural limits and avoids excess. Unfortunately, humans have the ability to override what is healthy for them. Living excessively (over doing it with eating, shopping, work, sexual relations, etc) is often a non-productive reaction to internalizing stress, and then trying to numb your feelings with respect to what is causing that stress. If you stay in touch with your true human nature, as Aurelio suggests, you will begin to make better choices, and feel better about yourself.
Drawing up a list of New Year’s resolutions that you are not likely to keep yet another time around, is going to do nothing to put you on track for living the life you really want to be living. Most people’s resolutions reflect a universal desire for vibrant health, love, prosperity and a connection to something greater than themselves. Don’t use the excuse of having to wait for New Years Day, or any other occasion to begin living each day in gratitude for the glorious celebration that it is. Take a moment to disengage from the everyday “tran tran” and reflect on what is important to you on a daily basis. Then just LIVE those principles in small ways, and in as many instances as you can.
In my book “Living la Dolce Vita” (Sourcebooks) I give several suggestions of what the Italian culture emphasizes as the pathway to contentment. They include the following:
- · Attending to important relationships with immediate and distant family members.
- · Nurturing a network of great friends and eliminating false friends from your life.
- · Bring romance back into view on all levels of your life, whether you have a partner or not.
- · Make each meal a tribute to your body and soul: Focus on small portions of quality food, eaten in company.
- · Consider where your true wealth lies, beyond your worth in monetary currency.
- · Live the “bella figura” philosophy, in what you say, do, and the way you present yourself.
- · Communicate in a positive, uplifting way that inspires—not diminishes—the people you love.
- · Reconnect to your spiritual side.
- · Change your attitude if you want to change your mood.
I like to review each of these dimensions of a “dolce vita” when I open my eyes in the morning. If I adhere to these guidelines, I go to sleep at night with the feeling that it has been a day well-lived.
Auguri di buon anno 2014,