How to Achieve Inner Peace and Flourishing in 2019
We all know New Years Resolutions don’t work. Getting sweaty at the gym on the daily, eliminating soda consumption, or keeping a surplus of cash in the checking account at the end of every month are all lovely goals, but the problem is we tend to have an all-or-nothing perspective. It’s make or break, do or die.
A few years ago, when I was trying to lose weight, I promised myself, God, my mom, and everyone else, that I wouldn’t let one bit of sugar enter my mouth for a certain period of time. But c’mon, let’s face it, sugar is sooo delicious, particularly when combined with milk and cocoa in the form of CHOCOLATE. So I never fulfilled my vows because once I broke down and gobbled up one brownie, it felt like I had failed the mission completely. Breaking my vow felt incredibly demoralizing and I lacked the ability to forgive myself, get back up, and try again.
Nowadays, I’m a much bigger fan of goals that create space for learning and growth, for flops and second chances. Goals that aren’t all or nothing. Rigidly perfectionistic resolutions only lead to failure and shame.
Here are some ideas for a 2019 of flourishing:
1. Be rather than do.
Therapist says: Doing exhausts, while being replenishes.
This one touches on where we find our worth. Too often, without even realizing it, we tie our worth as people to how many tasks we have checked off our lists, how much money we’ve brought in, or how many promotions we’ve achieved.
We like measurable progress. Correction: I LIVE for measurable progress. There’s something satisfyingly addictive about its concreteness. I like being able to count my worth on my fingers.
Being is acknowledging I’m more than the fruits of my labors. Being is about Sabbath. Being is about resting in unproductive sufficiency. Being is about knowing who I am and Whose I am. It’s going about my day saying, “If everything doesn’t get done, it’s ok. I’m still beautiful. I’m still enough.”
How can you increasingly let go of the self-imposed obligation to do and just be in 2019?
2. Find a community.
Therapist says: Communities are fertile gardens for spiritual growth and emotional healing.
Nowhere is a perfect fit, although some places will feel more like home than others. Shop around a little, sure. Find a place where you can surround yourself with people who you like and admire and who will care for your heart and push you to be a better person.
But one of the keys to finding a community is being willing to commit. No community fits like a glove – anywhere you go, there will be awkward moments, moments of feeling rejected, moments of conflict. Human relationships are messy. Period.
But so worth it. Loving and being loved is what I believe God designed our hearts to most crave. And it is the key to true happiness.
With whom might you dwell in 2019?
3. Be vulnerable.
Therapist says: Vulnerability is key to healing from depression, anxiety, and painful memories.
Once you’ve found that community, now you have to let yourself be SEEN and KNOWN. And that, friends, is one of the hardest and most blessed tasks God has given to mankind.
One of the things that makes vulnerability so hard is that a lot of us aren’t sure what lurks under our well-curated exteriors. WE don’t even fully see or know ourselves, so how can we risk our deepest darkest selves being witnessed by others?
Lowering our walls is heart-wrenching. You guys, I know this so well from personal experience. It can be physically nauseating. The only elixir that could ever give us strength to jump off the cliff into such unknown waters is the love of God.
How can you let yourself be seen and known in 2019?
4. Be courageous.
Therapist says: Living in sync with our most dearly held values is the only way to be whole.
Life is scary. It really is. Bills to pay, children with cancer, difficult relationships. I suspect that God’s plentiful commands not to be afraid mean making an active choice to hold onto His goodness and obey Him in the face of whatever fears we feel. In other words, I personally think we can obey His “fear not’s” even in the midst of a lingering emotion of fear. Emotions are part of being human. The real question, I believe, is whether we will cling to truth and humbly bow before Jesus in the midst of the feelings.
Courage is vulnerability while holding fast to the truth that we are loved. Courage is showing up and knowing that no matter what happens, we are enough. Courage is speaking your heart to your spouse when you know it will be hard to hear. Courage is humbly listening to your spouse’s heart without getting defensive. Courage is speaking truth and refusing to compromise on loving others, even when everyone else is. Courage is being who you are without hiding.
Where might you be courageous in 2019?
5. Accept your limits.
Therapist says: Adjusting our expectations of ourselves brings sweet relief.
We expect too much of ourselves, almost across the board. We tend to get down on ourselves when we’re less than infinite. What silly creatures we are.
We were never meant to be super-human. And the act of trying is most likely to result in frustration and a pounding head.
Accepting our finitude brings more relief than just about anything. We’re only human. And guess what! That’s ok. We were never meant to be more.
How can you let yourself be human a little bit more in 2019?