Reflections on a year of living well

Day 364 of #LiveWell2017

Day 364 lessons learned 2017

So, here we are. December 30, 2017.

Three hundred and sixty-four days ago I launched my #LiveWell2017 project. I did it primarily for selfish reasons – I needed a coping strategy for staying positive. I was feeling pretty hopeless about the state of the world at the beginning of this year, even though my personal life was on track and full of love and happiness.

But I knew one really important thing about myself…that what I think and feel has a huge impact on my physical and mental well-being. That, in turn, impacts how I interact with the world around me. Like many people, I’ve lived too much of my life letting my thoughts and emotions control me – worrying about the future, fretting about the past, fearing the unknown, and wondering if I was good enough, smart enough, financially stable enough, or happy enough. I too often let circumstances around me and my own thoughts and feelings get in the way of a life lived well.

So, this year I set out on a mission (as I explained on January 1st) to improve the way I experienced life. This year, I chose to #LiveWell by practicing being more mindful, more grateful, kinder, and more generous. Here’s what I said I’d do…

“I choose to surround myself with words, images, voices, people, and work that help me to make peace, restore hope, tell stories, create art, nurture relationships, protect wild places, and lift others up. My goal is to be more mindful of my actions and their impacts so that I can magnify the positive energy, love, and goodness in the world around me.”

I started my year of Living Well by diving into the notion of mindfulness, reading about it and practicing each day. That led me to learn more about meditation and this thing called the self (including figuring out whether or not it exists. ). I explored and practiced kindness in new ways. I took time each day to be grateful, and I worked to expand my capacity to be generous and giving by volunteering and showing kindness through planned and random acts.

I thought perhaps I was not the only person who might need some inspiration and motivation to live well, so I shared my journey here on this blog, creating 262 posts full of graphics and stories that would provide insight and illustration of a life well-lived. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work. After a year of reading about, writing about, and practicing mindfulness, gratitude, kindness, and generosity, I’m probably more like Dan Harris than Thich Nhat Hanh, but I know I’ve changed.

I am comfortable knowing that nothing is permanent, that everything changes. I understand that there is only now, and I can choose how to live in each moment. I live each day more deliberately, waking up and smiling at the new opportunity to create peace, share love, and be kind.  I eat slower, laugh more, say thank you often, and breathe deeply when I catch my mind wandering away from the present.

I’ve learned to accept and then let go of ideas, thoughts, emotions, and expectations because I’ve become more conscious of them in my own mind. I’ve learned to observe without judgement or clinging. I’ve learned that the mind’s default setting is to think about ourselves, so I practice focusing on others more often. I am more humble and more willing to accept things as they are, knowing that “this, too, shall pass”.

I hope that I have helped make the world a little better place by being more positive and acting more kindly, by sharing inspiration and telling stories about caring, love, generosity, and joy.

I’ve learned directly and indirectly from some wonderful teachers, including Thich Nhat Hanh, the unnamed homeless man living down the street, my morning cup of tea, and the daily opportunities to practice being mindful and kind. I’ve read A LOT – more than I expected to (I’ve included my 2017 reading list below), and those books inspired me in many ways.

It’s been a joy to hear from those of you who have read, commented, or just skimmed along. Thank you. I’d love to know how this journey has impacted you as well, so feel free to share a comment below.

What have you learned from reading this blog or from living well in your own way this year?

********************************

My 2017 Reading List

goodreads 2017a

  • Power of Off by Nancy Colier
  • The Earth Speaks by Steve Van Metre
  • Mindfulness on the Go by
  • You are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
  • Recovery by Russell Brand
  • West with the Night by Beryl Markham
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  • The Heart of Meditation by Dalai Lama XIV
  • An Interview with the Buddha by Joan Duncan Oliver
  • Being Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics by Simon Blackburn
  • The New Jim Crow by
  • A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
  • Thoughts without a Thinker by Mark Epstein
  • Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young
  • 5-Minute Mindfulness: Walking by Douglas Baker
  • 10% Happier by Dan Harris
  • Waking Up by Sam Harris
  • Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Gimme Refuge by Matt Love
  • Story Craft by Jack Hart
  • Still Here by Ram Dass
  • DB Cooper’s Parachute by William Sullivan
  • Strangers in their own land by Arlie Russell Rochschild

I’m currently reading:

  • Everyday Greatness by Steven Covey
  • Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Thich Nhat Hanh Essential Writings

 

6 thoughts on “Reflections on a year of living well

  1. You have always made a positive impact in my life and continue to do so! Your posts were the “special treat” I waited to read each day when I had a few minutes to be really present to embrace your words. Thanks for being always be so authentic and real!

  2. I have enjoyed taking this journey with you, Deb. I have been practicing “being in the moment”, a concept that is really hard for me. I have learned that we are very different but also very alike, for that I am grateful. Thank you for sharing your year with us!

    1. Lynn, that is so wonderful to know. Thank you for journeying along. Yes, we are so conditioned to be thinking and doing, that we actually miss out on what’s happening right now in front of us. Keep practicing embracing the moment.

  3. It was a great journey with you this year. I think many women struggle with living in the moment and tend to let worrying rob them of today. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and fabulous pictures. Happy New Year!

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