Let love be your secret power

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I hope your new year is off to a great start. For many, January was a time for making resolutions. If you set goals for the year, this is a good time to check in and take stock of how things are going.

If you are committed — and are taking consistent action — to the exercise you want to do more of, or the decluttering you set out to tackle, the job search you decided to initiate, or any other objective you have to make this a great year, I say, “Bravo!”

On the other hand, if you’ve struggled to get traction, take consistent action, or have had set-backs or feel discouraged, this is a great time to get back on track. There are still 11 months of the year ahead!

Here’s how to stay the course — or get back on track — as you pursue your goals and resolutions.

Leverage love!

Love is a powerful resource that’s always available to you, and that you can turn to at any time. Curious about how love will help you meet your goals? Here's the way this works.

Love powers your life in remarkable ways when you put it into action. And to help love do its magic, I suggest you begin with a simple technique: Pay attention to the words you say to yourself.

Because the words you use have a huge impact. The actual language of your thoughts matters!

It’s time to start speaking to yourself with love.

We tend to be incredibly hard on ourselves when we feel we are falling short in some way. If someone walked up to you and said, “What a loser! I can’t believe you didn’t make it to yoga class today!“ how would you feel? That would be harsh and mean, right? 

If you’d be unhappy to hear that from someone else, why would you use a similarly negative tone when thinking to yourself? Instead, consider loving ways to speak to yourself.

Loving self-talk about something that feels discouraging might sound like this: “Okay, you missed the yoga class today. Why not register now for the next one, and clear space on the calendar to be sure to get there? It will feel wonderful to spend that hour with a great teacher and so many lovely people! And, it will make the rest of the day so much more pleasant.”

Speaking to yourself with love will come naturally when you cultivate self-love in many ways. The idea is to stop being accusatory. Stop putting yourself down. Start treating yourself tenderly, like the deserving person you are.

Try these 3 easy ways to practice self-love and bring more loving self-talk into your life.

  1. Look at yourself in the mirror for a minute or two after you’ve washed your face each evening. Smile. Place a hand on your heart and say a few loving words to yourself. Yes, it will likely feel awkward, but if you do this every day for a week or two, it will get easier. Keep going! You’ll start to notice a shift in your self-talk throughout each day.

  2. Closely watch the words you choose in your thoughts about yourself. Do not label yourself in ways you would find unacceptable by others. Be positive, supportive, and encouraging — just as you would with someone special in your life. Reflect on the language you use and the circumstances when you give yourself the messages that most touch your heart, and find opportunities to do more of that.

  3. Treat yourself to small moments of delight — like time to sit and simply breath quietly for two minutes. Or take a break to walk in the fresh air. Or soak in a bubble bath. Or take a few extra minutes to savor the taste of your meal in quiet, rather than multitasking. As you take time for yourself, remind yourself of your talents and all the great things you do in the world. You might even want to start a self-love journal, where you can make a note each day of several ways that you are special. (Keep it handy and refer to it whenever you feel discouraged!)

While everyone celebrates Valentine’s Day as a single day for love, you can choose to fill your heart with love, and fill your thoughts with loving words about and to yourself, every day. This self-love will be an enormous help as you pursue the goals and dreams that deeply matter to you. 

And, there’s a bonus: The more fully you love yourself, the more love you will have for others in your life!

How gratitude super-powers life

We can cultivate states of mind that open us to creativity and enhance our happiness and well-being. That open our heart in beautiful ways. That plug us in to the glories of the world around us.

Focusing on love is one such state of mind. Being at peace, and consciously spreading peace is magnificent. Focusing on the moment we're in — without dwelling on the past or fast-forwarding to the future — calms and centers us. Being joyous keeps us from suffering anxiety and worry when there's no real danger in our midst.

These are all important and powerful forces that we can be mindful of, and that we can make a reality in our day-to-day lives if we focus on them. They let our spirit soar. They set the stage for goodness of all kinds.

I created a little pad of Gratitude sheets that I keep on my desk. It's a great prompt for me to make a list every day.

I created a little pad of Gratitude sheets that I keep on my desk. It's a great prompt for me to make a list every day.

And, there's something else we can add, that not only amplifies all of that wonderfulness, it accelerates the benefits of those states of being. Gratitude is the extra ingredient that can make life enormously rich and rewarding.

Gratitude tunes us in to small moments of wonder and loveliness — the things that typically go unnoticed as we go through our days. When we take a few minutes each day to jot down 5 things, 10 things, even 12 things for which we're grateful, we are alert to our lives in a new way. And we can rejoice in all there is to feel grateful for. 

When we practice gratitude we are slowing down — slowing down to notice things we can appreciate, and slowing down to note them. We can write that we're grateful for the restored health of someone we love, for the momentary kindness of a stranger, for having a safe place to live, for the inspiration found in a newspaper article, for an insight we gleaned in a conversation, for the taste of something delicious, for the fun of laughing with a friend, for a discovery made on an outing, for the budding of trees and blooming of flowers, for courageously trying something new, for the sweetness of watching a young child at play.

There are endless things for which we can feel gratitude. When we observe those things, and note them as we start our day, before switching off the light at night, or any time and place in between, we are enriching our hearts and connecting to all the sweetness in life. 

In addition to better emotional wellbeing, we have greater vitality when we are grateful. Gratitude enhances our relationships — we are in a kinder state of mind and more empathetic. Science shows that grateful people feel better physically, having fewer aches and pains and sleeping better, and there's even evidence that they have stronger immune systems. We feel better about ourselves and experience less doubt. And, we are more emotionally resilient when the inevitable challenges come up in our lives. 

All of these benefits make life so much sweeter. We can feel so much more open and ready to make the most of our lives. We can be courageous and live creatively in every moment. We can put fear aside and be bold. Gratitude helps us to truly live big.