Breathe. Be. Believe.

January is always a time to reflect on the year that has been and make big wishes and resolutions for the year ahead. This year especially, many of us are eager to say goodbye to 2020 and look forward to “happier, healthier” times. As eager as we all are to move on and look forward, it is also important to take pause, reflect, look inward, and then mindfully and with intention set realistic and authentic hopes and goals.  I believe we are healthiest and happiest when we think, feel and act from a place of within. And truthfully, we can and should do this often and anytime, we really do not need to wait for a new year to reassess our own values and priorities.

For sure, 2020 brought us unprecedented challenges, pain, loss and change. The COVID pandemic impacted us all in profound ways: many have lost loved ones, lived through illness and worried about our health, grieved lost opportunities and traditions, experienced financial stress and hardship, lived through political unrest and social injustice, lost trust and hope in the institutions we believe in and rely on, and endured social isolation and disconnection from our families and friends. Wow, there is no other way to say it – this is a lot of pain, trauma and adversity.

I wish it were not so, I know how deeply we as individuals, families, communities and society are suffering and struggling. I have been humbled and honored to share in the journeys of those who have let me in this year. So often, we minimize, discredit, and try to avoid our own feelings and experiences. But it is exactly the opposite that sets us up for the greatest success, health and joy. Before we jump to 2021, let’s allow ourselves (even if only briefly) to think about and feel the year 2020.

Amidst the greatest challenges, I believe there is cause for celebration and hope. Front line workers showed up to work every day. Medical providers cared for us despite worrying about their own health and families. Communities banded together to provide for those in need. Schools adapted and families slowed down and spent time (a lot of it!) together. Creativity and compassion blossomed. Science accomplished a miracle in record time.

Start with Breathe. What do you notice in yourself? What do you feel in your body, think, want, need, hope for? Our lives are full of messages and images that bombard us from the outside, it is easy to lose sight of what is on the inside. But only when we truly know what we are thinking, feeling and needing can we find what is truly meaningful and important for ourselves. This is what leads to health and happiness.

Now, just Be. For a moment, allow yourself to pause, to breathe. No judgment, no agenda, no thinking. Just breathe. One of the greatest lessons 2020 has taught me (ok, maybe just reminded me) is that as humans, we can do hard things. We can bear pain and discomfort, we can endure more than we think we can or want to, we are stronger than we think we are both individually and collectively. If we can allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we create the potential for strength and possibilities. There is no right way to be, there is only our own way. And it is finding our own way that leads to health and happiness.

And finally, Believe.  2020 has been challenging, but 2021 can and will be better. Maybe not immediately. There are some things we just cannot control, but there are other things we do have the power to change. We have control over how we respond to the challenges we face, though only if we allow ourselves to breathe and be for long enough to make actual choices. Start with one moment, one step, one day at a time. We can choose hope, kindness, connections, gratitude, contribution, courage and we can choose action.

Breathe. Be. Believe. Sending you wishes for real health and happiness in the new year!