Well, here we are in the first days of the New Year, and undoubtedly New Year’s intentions and resolutions are on the minds of many. Each year in this column I discuss the enormous power of setting healthy intentions for yourself. And I’d suggest to you that “typical” resolutions are very different from the kinds of intentions I’m referring to. For example, it might be common to set a resolution that goes something like, “This year I’m going to lose 20 pounds.” Or, “I resolve to do better in school.” Or perhaps, “I will make a better effort to be on time and stop being late for everything.” “I will pay more attention to my kid’s schoolwork.” “I will call my parents more.”
OK … all created with the idea of changing some behavior about yourself.
Or, you can consider setting an intention that doesn’t address merely a behavior, but addresses a deep-seated and honest desire to evolve into the kind of person you’ve been wanting to become, perhaps for some time now. An example might be, “I intend to be the kind of person who is vigilant about my health.” You can see how this aligns more deeply with who you want to be, not just what you want to do. Those 20 pounds will likely take care of themselves, as your focus now involves what may be a whole range of healthy thinking, speaking and doing in order to become a healthier, more aware you.
All the “typical” resolutions can be re-worded (and re-thought) in this same fashion. “Doing better in school” becomes “Valuing and fully using my mind.” “Stop being late” becomes “Someone who is respectful of my time and other’s.” “Call parents more” becomes “An intention to be more loving.” You can play with this and find what works best for you.
So, what if we invest our energy toward this type of deep, inner change more than once a year? What if we re-visit who we wish to become on a monthly basis? Or weekly? Or even daily?
I’m a big advocate for paying special attention to two very important moments in the course of your day: when you first wake up, and again right before you go to sleep. These are powerful states of consciousness, where the mind is open and receptive. In the morning, before your mind has revved up to organize all the things you have to do—the lists of chores, the responsibilities to others, the work at the office—you haven’t layered on the defenses that we humans naturally wear in order to navigate the ups and downs that lie ahead. When you first wake up, you’re still in a state where your mind is vulnerable, raw, ready to be seduced.
At night, as you’re shedding the physical and emotional events of the day, general fatigue helps you return to a similar state of consciousness, where your defenses are again slowly dropping away, thoughts are clearing out, to be replaced by a quieter mind.
As you’ve read many times in this column, we have lots of choice in creating our reality. Our thoughts, words and deeds all play a major role in co-architecting our life in concert with our Universe. So sure, you can start and end your day with news and noise from outside. But you have choice: you can either allow external input to determine what fills your mind, or you can empower yourself to choose the content and quality of thoughts to begin and end your day with.
I encourage people to begin their day with an intention, a goal. For instance, “Today I will wear a smile.” Or, “I will be sober.” “With every breath, I will have faith in myself.” “I will be courageous.” “Today I work in harmony with my Higher Power.” “Today I am going to be well.”
And I encourage people to end their day with an attitude of gratitude. Exhale, and let your mind fill with all the positives that have visited your life. By choosing to put these thoughts in your receptive, quieting mind, you close out your day’s experience with a sense of peace.
I’ve heard celebrated author Dr. Wayne Dyer refer to this as “… quiet time with God. In the morning before you’re fully awake, and again as you’re going to sleep, be in a state of appreciation,” he suggests, “and say aloud, I want to feel good!”
I encourage you to ponder how you’d like to “book-end” your day. (Perhaps book-ending can be an intention in itself.) And see how it makes a difference in who you become this year.
Until next time:
“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
Dr. Rick Pimental-Habib, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, minister, and educator, in private practice in Chattanooga, and the author of “Empowering the Tribe” and “The Power of a Partner.” Visit his website at www.DrRPH.com.