If you are reading this, there’s a decent chance most of us have survived the predicted apocalypse of Dec. 21, 2012. In any case, apparently YOU have, so now the question is “What’s up for 2013?” If you are like me, New Years Resolutions get about as tired as I do with each passing year, and 99% of the time (100% if I’m really being honest) they don’t work anyway because we already have enough on our plates.

Here is my challenge to myself and to you. Let’s make some No-Years Resolutions. Let’s NOT do three things that have become a problematic part of our lives. Let’s undo some destructive habits and free up space in our lives and our relationships for….. well, for our lives and our relationships!

1. Unplug

It isn’t uncommon for me as a therapist to go get a client in the waiting room and watch them walk down the hall to my office with wires in each ear and their cell phone in front of them, texting out a few last words before we start. Then they sit down and say, genuinely surprised, “My wife/husband/children don’t think I listen to them!”

Noooo! Really? Well, how about if you finish up Angry Birds there and we can talk about it a little bit? I would be a wealthy woman if I had a dollar for each time I saw an entire family out at a restaurant, each member holding their phone in front of them, not speaking or even making eye contact with each other. Is this ringing a bell for you?

This year, let’s resolve to put down our phones when we are with our loved ones. Let’s relearn the fine art of actually looking at them when we are speaking or listening to them.

2. Don’t Withhold Kindness

Life is a busy venture these days. We start our work days before we even get to the office; checking emails, voicemails, comparing schedules — and that’s just with our pre-schoolers! The journey through life used to be an amble down a dusty path, filled with encounters of all sorts to stop and enjoy. Now we zip through life going 85 mph down a freeway with twelve electronic devices operating at once, and the tragedy isn’t only that a lot of us don’t really even know where we are headed, but what we are missing along the way.

We are surrounded in our daily lives with opportunities, in the form of people around us who are in need. Sometimes they need material help, but often they simply need a smile or a hello. They might need a hand with a door or lifting a package. An older person might need help getting groceries to the door or walking a dog. Reaching out to people in these moments enrich our lives and make us better people. Let’s resolve to be on the lookout for opportunities to practice kindness. It’s good karma!

3. Stop the Noise

It has become important in our society to be busy all of the time.

“How are you, Bill?”
“Oh, I’m keeping busy!”
“Great!”

Why? Why isn’t “keeping still” a pretty good thing? Why isn’t simply ‘being’ something to be happy about?

“How are you, Bob?”
“I am fantastic! I haven’t done anything all day! Come to think of it, I haven’t had much of a thought, either!”
“Keep it up, Bob!”

Be still. Make 2013 your year of being instead of doing. Stand still long enough to find yourself. Practice the art of sitting still in a park and watching a squirrel play or a leaf quiver on a tree. Practice listening to the sound of the breeze rustling branches or the sound of water in a brook. Practice simply being.

Practice being still for ten minutes each day, twice a day. If it sounds appealing, check out something called Mindfulness Meditation, which involves simply sitting and focusing on our breathing for a few minutes each day. Resolve to make this the year that you stop, at least once or twice a day, and sit still with yourself. Trust me, if you aren’t in constant motion, you won’t fall over dead. In fact, you just might, for the first time in a long time, really feel alive.

Taking care of ourselves is becoming harder and harder, but it is more critically important now than ever. If you get stuck, counseling can help you find meaningful ways to reduce and more effectively manage stress in your life. If you are interested in speaking to someone about stress management, contact the intake department at Maria Droste Counseling Center at 303-867-4600 or intake@mariadroste.org.

Need Help?

If you would like to speak to a therapist about this subject or about any other issue you may be experiencing, contact the Maria Droste Access Center at 303-867-4600.

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by Chris Lewis, Ed.S., LPC