Tips for January
New Year always strikes me as rather an anxious time – a “must do better” time, a time to make amends for the balls up(s) of last year, a fresh chance to stop drinking and learn the piano and master Javanese and know the names and reigns of all 40 British Monarchs, or lose the 10 kilos you’ve been carting around for the past decade – and most importantly, to make peace with those you’ve pissed off and those who have upset you.
But what if this year you spat the dummy?
What if you didn’t make any lists or resolutions, but instead asked yourself one simple question – “What quality would I like to manifest this year?’ or, better still, “What sort of person would I like to be this year?”
Manifest a quality
A quality – peace, joy, kindness, emotional containment, patience, compassion, grace – is an elusive thing that often remains nothing more than a pretty concept, especially when talked about rather than applied to real life. And yet if we were to channel our chosen quality with passion and commitment into the things that matter to us, then miraculously the list of goals would start to tick itself.
For me it’s the quality of PATIENCE – I want everything NOW but I forget that goals and relationships need constant nurture, little baby steps, just one or two a day and I am not suddenly going to find myself in a taxi in a size 10 Valentino dress with perfect skin and no cellulite en route to collect my first BAFTA.
First I have to become a better writer and that means showing up patiently on the page E.S.D (every single day) rather than fantasizing about dresses and speeches and chunky gold awards.
Likewise with my yoga practice. I am not going to regain the suppleness that I had in my 20’s by watching yoga on YouTube or talking about how great yoga is. I have to A.D.Y (actually do yoga) — not necessarily for 90 mins a day – 20 mins a day is more beneficial than a massive session once a week, plus it means that I get to play with myself on the mat every single day, if you get my drift…
If you were to focus on infusing your daily creative practice with whatever your chosen quality may be, then your brain chemistry will re-calibrate itself to nurture that quality and therefore your practice.
The brain will say “Ah! here we are again” at the page, or on the mat, or in front of the easel, or whatever, and Brain will remember how great you felt at the end of yesterday’s practice because your morale was boosted and that felt virtuous and groovy. So Brain will say, “Cool, let’s do that again tomorrow!” And the day after. And the day after that. Because good feelings lead to good habits which lead to good feelings and round it goes.
So here are my quality tips for January
- Forget lists because they’ll only make you a slave to inadequacy and you’ll watch and weep as you fail to achieve any of your goals.
- Work on cultivating ONE QUALITY, the absence of which is stopping you from achieving your goals. You know what that quality is – it’s whatever you struggle with most.
- Infuse your life as much you can with this precious quality, especially during mundane activities like loading the dishwasher, or brushing your teeth because that’s when Brain – supposedly on autopilot – really starts to re-wire itself. And because you’re applying the quality on a daily basis, it will be there to support you during those really challenging times when you need it most.