2012 was the best year of my 50-year-old life. Most of the other years were really nice but this one was a standout. In 2012 I didn’t lose a pound, didn’t drop a clothes size, didn’t win the lottery, didn’t find a cure for cancer, didn’t win the Nobel Peace prize, didn’t change my relationship status, and I didn’t run a marathon (not even a half marathon). My children did not cure cancer either, nor did they get perfect ACT scores, or athletic scholarships, they didn’t invent a million dollar app or get published in a world famous science journal. If you were an outside observer, you might think that my family and me had a rather average year.
Yet you would be wrong. In 2012 I made some huge changes that affected every moment and every interaction that I had throughout the year. Here are the things I stopped doing:
- Focusing and beating on myself for aspects of my appearance. I am done worrying about my weight, the wrinkles on my face, cellulite, and levels of muscle tone. I’ve probably wasted years on diets, excessive exercise, a number on a scale, and signs of aging. Bottom line; this is me and I’m fine with it.
- Worrying about what other’s think of me. It’s just not my problem. If someone is unhappy with me, they can nicely come and tell me what it is. I stopped concerning myself with feeling embarrassed, fear of rejection, humiliation, etc. Those things happen regardless so why not just do my thing? Funny, it feels like I have lost 10 lbs. since I stopped worrying.
- Judging others and myself. I’m still working extra hard on this one but it is worth the effort. I realized that when I judge others, I’m usually doing it because I’m unhappy with some aspect of myself. I have a rule with all of my clients; I won’t judge them and I won’t allow them to judge themselves. It appears that many of us need to work on this.
- Making my children’s issues my issues. A wise new friend said this to me, “My children are not my life, my children are in my life.” How wonderful to let go of the burden of feeling everything your child feels, taking responsibility for each positive and negative thing they do, and the incessant worry about all aspects of their lives? It’s been interesting to watch my children blossom in their own unique ways as I’ve stopped overwatering and obsessing about them. Surprisingly enough, my own life has been more fulfilled and joyous as a result.
- Worrying that behind every joyful moment something bad is about to happen. Why can’t we just accept happiness for what it is? Why must we always worry about what’s around the corner? Why don’t we trust ourselves enough to know that we will manage whatever comes our way? Right now I’m happy and I’m happy that I’m happy so don’t try and talk me out of it.
Here are the things that I started to do in 2012:
- Faced my fears head on. I shamelessly plugged my business, my successes, and my skills as frequently as I could and I’m still here to talk about it. What good is having a skill or a product that you know can help others yet be afraid to market it? I also found my voice and I used it to stand up for others and myself.
- Said yes when no felt much more comfortable. Every scary yes led to some of the most amazing opportunities I’ve ever had in my life. Each yes also introduced me to brilliant, wise, kind people who helped me face even more fears. Another smart friend told me that many years ago she decided to be a yes vs. a no person and she changed the course of her marriage and the quality of her life because of it.
- Took responsibility each and every day for my own happiness. If I don’t like something and I can change it, I do. If I can’t change it, I change how I look at it. If I hear myself saying, “He made me mad” or “She made me act this way,” I know that I’m not owning my own feelings and I’m letting others do that for me. I find things to do each day that replenish me and I reach out to people who are like-minded, supportive, and loving. If I’m not happy, I only have myself to blame and I’m done beating on myself.
As I wrote that 2012 was the best year of my life, I did it with the knowledge that people I love might have been counting the seconds for the year to be over. Many of my friends faced hardships this year with illness, death of a parent or loved one, divorce (though I think for most of them this was good news), and most devastating of all, the loss of a child. At times during the year I felt helpless in my ability to improve their situations or to ease their pain. I wondered if feeling joy was disrespectful to their suffering. Yet I do understand that we feel happiness and pain and that in our lives we will have both. So in 2013 I will seek out joy and happiness as much as I can in that I know it will ultimately sustain me when times get tough and when others need me to be strong.
Happy, healthy New Year to all of you!
Lisa Kaplin is a psychologist and life coach at www.smartwomeninspiredlives.com
You can reach her at Lisa@smartwomeninspiredlives.com