Feel Your Way into a Happier New Year

Many of us are tempted to make resolutions or set intentions for the approaching year as December winds down. It’s hard to resist the promise of a fresh new year, full of possibilities and opportunities to make changes in our lives for greater well-being and fulfillment. By spring, however, many of those plans and good intentions have typically been compromised, abandoned, or forgotten.

There’s a different way to design the year ahead, based on how we want to feel in the coming 12 months. Since most of the plans we make for change are ultimately designed to help us feel better, why not identify that feeling state first, and line up actions and choices that will support it?

This way of approaching the new year is more of a “going toward” than a “moving away from” method for greater happiness, notes Kripalu faculty and presenter Toni Bergins, creator of JourneyDance™.

“When we make resolutions, we are usually hoping to change a behavior we don’t like, or make ourselves do something we’ve been putting off,” says Toni. “So many resolutions fail because they are made from a mental state of not having what we want. When we get our body and joyful emotions into our wishes, we gain more potential for success.”

Sometimes we may have to begin by noticing any undesirable states we find ourselves in as January approaches, and identify their opposites. For example, several heartbreaking personal losses this year left me feeling depleted and more alone. In 2019, I therefore desire to feel enthusiastic (which literally means filled with the divine) and connected.

Next, it’s important to ask:

  • What would that actually look like? This finds me envisioning my daily life, and special occasions I’m looking forward to, and imagining how feeling more enthusiastic and connected would look in my activities and interactions. For instance, I envision myself headed to the gym feeling lucky to have an affordable membership, enjoying the music as I work out, and making friendly conversation with staff members. I also see myself scheduling weekly tea and lunch dates with soul-nourishing friends, and being authentic and present during our time together.
     
  • How can I support myself in feeling (enthusiastic and connected) as often as possible? Among other ways to support myself, I’ll keep my body and brain happy with exercise, hydration, good nutrition, and rest. I’ll say yes to only those invitations that excite me, and practice enough self-care and pleasure to approach obligations from a place of fullness. I’ll also feed my spirit with the kinds of music, books, movies, people, and gatherings that I truly love.

Throughout the year, I’ll likely need to keep reminding myself that I desire to feel enthusiastic and connected, and stay open to attitudes, choices, and habits that support those feelings. One strategy is to write the words “enthusiastic” and “connected” on my phone, calendar, and other things I look at throughout the day. This will offer me opportunities to regularly reflect on those desired feelings; ask myself, “What would help me feel more enthusiastic or connected today (or in this moment)?”; and invite my creative mind to produce ideas.

Toni says she desires to feel more joy in the new year. “Every day I’m going to do something that brings me joy,” she says. “That means playing more, making music, dancing, cooking and making beautiful food, and working less on my computer—unless I’m writing, which brings me joy!”

Of course, we all have less than joyful moments in life, which is when remembering how we desire to feel—and having tools to get there—can help. “When I start thinking negative, fearful, and worried thoughts, I use EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) tapping or my MindBusting™ technique to shift my thoughts as quickly as I can and avoid that rabbit hole of old patterning,” says Toni. “I also remember to stay present in my body and get inspiration from spiritual teachers when I need it.”

She’ll also be doing lots of dancing, of course, in her weekly Kripalu R&R classes and her JourneyDance programs and teacher trainings. “Music and movement transform my mood and shift my energy within minutes,” says Toni. “They let me express whatever I need to, and open my body and heart.”

Now there’s a lovely feeling state for the new year: openhearted. If that appeals to you, consider what it would look like to be more openhearted each day (including towards yourself), and what supportive practices, choices, thoughts, and attitudes would help you feel that way as much as possible. Once you make plans to ground this or any other feeling you desire in concrete routines and rituals, write (or illustrate) the word and keep it somewhere you’ll see it, often, as you feel your way through the coming year.

Find out about upcoming JourneyDance programs with Toni Bergins at Kripalu.

Kim Childs is a Boston-based Kripalu Yoga teacher and a certified life and career coach who specializes in positive psychology, creativity, soulful living, and midlife transitions. kimchilds.com

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