Every year, I pick a word that I want to make a conscious part of my daily life. I'm not a believer in resolutions; if you have the desire to do something, you'll find a way to do it. The start of the year has never been enough of a motivation for me to start a new habit. That being said, I do believe the the conscious remembrance of something regularly, eventually makes it part of your life.
In the past, my words have really reflected where I am mentally and emotionally. When I first moved out on my own, I picked the word "Joy" because I needed to find that in a world that was going to bring me new challenges. Other words have included "fire" and "wonder."
This year, I'm choosing the word "Ease."
We all know what the word means in daily life. When I looked up the meaning, the definition included:
make (something unpleasant, painful, or intense) less serious or severe.
move carefully, gradually, or gently.
As someone who has lived off of stringent schedules and a regimented lifestyle, it is difficult to imagine living with a sense of ease - it makes me uneasy. I suspect that you would have to pry my schedules and calendars out of my cold, dead hands. And I'd probably come back from the dead to snatch it off of you again.
But life dictates something different this year. Mostly, having to fight your way through your days leaves you depleted and fatigued. A few days off from work have shown me just how tired I am and I have spent far more time than necessary just sitting there, and doing nothing. It has driven me to the brink of insanity because I feel like I should be doing something, anything.
What I have realized in the large swaths of time that I have spent denting my couch is that in order to actually employ any ease, we need to be forgiving of ourselves, and show compassion to ourselves. If you are anything like me, you're good with the sharp, pointy words aimed at yourself. Phrases like, "you should have known better" and "If you don't go to the gym, you're just being lazy" and "you ought to be more careful" can quickly become a cycle of self-blame.
What good comes of it? I have never given myself a good scold and then felt really jazzed to do whatever I was meant to do. Fear is a good motivator, but certainly isn't the best and more importantly, isn't healthy if employed slavishly. If anything, we make it more difficult for ourselves when we pigeon-hole ourselves into our obligations.
A sense of ease means giving yourself permission to forgive yourself, and to show some compassion to yourself when things don't go the way they are meant to. It means just letting go a little bit and asking yourself whether the end result is worth the flogging. It issn't the same as pushing yourself or scaling up your dreams. It's beating yourself into submission, and oftentimes to unrealistic expectations you wouldn't hold others to.
After 2016, which, terrible as it was around the world, wasn't a personally horrible year. There were some extremely difficult decisions I had to make, but I came away with a better aligned sense of self from it. This isn't a terrible thing. That means that this year is a year in which I can ease into my days, and grant myself the go-ahead of take the foot off the gas pedal just a little bit.
I deem it will be a year of growth and of focus on myself and the ever-elusive "next steps", whatever those are. No climbing mountains. No leaps of faith. No going the distance. Just a gentle, care-filled year.
Do you have a word of the year that you can share?