2016 was a year of hard lessons, a bruised ego, tough love, beautiful truths, long inquiring looks in the mirror (not because I wanted to make sure my selfie was on point either) and surprising triumphs for me.
New doors of opportunities have opened, long exhausting chapters have ended, I’ve become a wee bit older and a whole lot more inquisitive about the path of enlightenment and self love. In between all of these transitions, I’ve learned new lessons about what happiness means and how to get it.
So while the tips of yesteryear can still be applied right now, here are 17 additional ways to work on keeping the peace throughout 2017.
1. Take good care of yourself first.
Self-care is not selfish. You must tend to your own mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well being first before trying to help someone else. If I haven’t learned anything else from flight attendants while sitting on planes, waiting to take off it’s this: “In the event of an emergency, please make sure your own oxygen mask is working properly before you attempt to assist others.”
2. Stop hoping other people will change to appease you.
It rarely happens. And 9 times out of 10, it won’t. The older we get, the more we become set in our ways and beliefs. You can’t make another human change. You just can’t. The person has to want to change and get better on their own.
3. Work on changing yourself.
Take all the energy you spend praying someone else will “come to their senses” and work on improving yourself. Notice how challenging it can be for you to kick your own bad habits? This is why #2 is pointless.
4. Embrace all emotions.
Growing up we were told “big kids don’t cry.” And now, feeling every other emotion besides sunshine, rainbows, and shooting stars is somehow “bad”. That’s simply not true. Can we stop shaming ourselves for having difficult days now? Can we get back to being human again instead of trying to avoid raw emotions like the plague? Every sentiment that’s opposite of happy doesn’t have to be labeled as unpleasant. These feelings invite us to learn more about who we are. In the words of one of my favorite yoga teachers, “don’t be afraid to feel.” Give your fear a nice big hug. Challenge it to a staring contest. Start making friends with what makes you uncomfortable.
5. Take your time.
Stop letting people rush you through your healing process. Your life path and everything it’s trying to teach you is not a race. Take all the time you need to find your way home, back to yourself. Maybe you’re not ready to “let it go” today. That’s okay.
6. Be mindful of what you consume.
Food, friendships, media, everything. Get rid of the toxic junk that doesn’t stimulate your mind, body and spirit in a healthy way.
7. Put down the phone and enjoy what’s happening right now.
I recently spent an hour trying to shoot and share an Insta story about a bonfire my friend and I made. By the time I figured it out and published the story, the fire was almost out: lesson learned.
8. Accept the fact that blood is not always thicker than water.
Titles mean nothing. A friend can feel more like family to you than an actual relative. Surround yourself with the ones who pour into you just as much as you pour into them. 2017 is the year of reciprocity. Cut out the dead weight. Snip. Snip.
9. Forgive even when you’ve been wronged.
Free your heart. Forgive yourself and the person who hurt you. And keep on living well.
10. Look for the lesson in everything.
They are all around us, even when it’s not so obvious. Even when it hurts. Dig deeper. There’s a reason things don’t work out. There’s a reason you don’t get everything you think you want. Sometimes you’re dodging a major bullet you’re not even aware of.
11. Understand it’s not always about you.
How someone treats you is a reflection of how that person feels about themselves. Words that come from someone’s mouth reveal the condition of their own heart. None of this has a thing to do with you or your worth.
12. Don’t be a doormat.
Ever. Stand up for yourself and what you believe in. Have enough self love to walk away from people that mistreat you and things that don’t serve you (a huge lesson for me this year!) Being assertive and asking for what you deserve is way more attractive than being a pushover and accepting whatever comes your way.
13. Don’t be too proud to apologize.
If you’re in the wrong, be big enough to admit it.
14. Understand everyone has their own perception.
We all process information and situations differently. The way you interpret how something happens is likely very different from how someone else will experience it. Case in point: upon leaving the island nation of Dominica I recently visited, I was standing next to a local feeling like I was going to melt from the humidity. She turned around and told me, “This is cold for us. This is our winter.” The temperature was 80 degrees.
15. Realize social media is not reality.
It’s just not. Many people are working hard to impress and portray a perfect life. Don’t buy into all the hype. Everyone is human. Everyone struggles with something.
16. Never assume someone already knows how you feel.
People can’t read your mind. If you’re feeling a way about something, release that heavy burden off your chest by getting things out in the open. Issues cannot be resolved unless communication is involved.
Hey, that rhymes.
17. Stay in your own lane.
Because most of us tend to think we’re qualified to tell someone else how they should or shouldn’t be living their life: even when we have zero experience with the matter at hand. Even when we don’t have to live with the decisions we’re advising someone else to make. Then we get upset when they don’t follow our advice. It’s time to cut that out.