Whether we call them resolutions, promises, initiatives or some other name, many of us are almost always in some stage of making changes to one or more aspects of our lives. We determine to quit bad habits, acquire good habits, eat less, save more, etc. You know the drill. Unfortunately, these are the types of superficial changes that mask the REAL changes that need to take place in our lives.
I am referring to profound changes in the way we perceive our experiences, and how those changes can be processed and filtered to improve our relationships with Self and others. Making these kinds of changes requires a huge effort that often takes us far beyond our respective comfort zones.
If we change our way of thinking, we can change our way of seeing. And when we change our perspective on things, Grace follows.
However, until you feel good about yourself by making some internal changes, you won’t achieve lasting results with the external changes you make in your life.
Start by taking baby steps toward making internal changes in your relationship with Self.
You are probably familiar with the saying “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Overall, that’s pretty good advice. Sometimes, however, the small stuff is not so small, and we really must address (or “sweat”) it, in order to get rid of it and make room for the blessings.
One way to get rid of that small stuff is to add prayer and meditation to your day. This suggestion is not just for religious people, but for spiritual people, as well. It has been said that prayer is simply us talking to God, while meditation is listening to God in the silence.
It is difficult to silence our minds, especially in the early stages of meditation (and sometimes even in the latter stages), so don’t try to suppress the thoughts that come up. Just let them pass through your mind. Imagine yourself waiting for traffic to slow down so that you can cross the road. Eventually, there will be a break in the traffic and you will be able to cross. There is an old saying that goes something like this: Trying to control the thoughts in your mind during meditation is like wrestling with a pig in the mud. Two things are accomplished: first, you get dirty; and second, the pig likes it.
I encourage you to start your day with 10 minutes spent in prayer and silence. A carpenter would not start a job without his tools, so why would you start your day without yours? In the silence, we connect to our innermost Self; our heart. The prophets and great teachers have told us that the heart is the place where we can find our true nature.
Our lives are made up of a series of routines that are sometimes so ingrained that we no longer recognize them as routines. They are simply there as a part of our daily lives. That’s why changing a routine might require some real thought and consideration.
But once you identify those routines, it is fairly easy to make changes to some of them. You could switch the order in which you shave and shower. Brush your teeth before you wash your face or vice versa. Dress yourself by putting on sock, shoe, sock, shoe, instead of sock, sock, shoe, shoe. Order takeout on a different evening. Go grocery shopping at night, instead of during the day. Take a different route to work, or use a different mode of transportation.
The possibilities for change to your routine are endless.
But it does not really matter what routine you change. What matters is that you do something . . . anything . . . differently, and that you notice how it feels, the new things you see, the new people you encounter, etc. Take it all in and really feel the difference that a change in routine can make in your life.
I ask that you take some negative event that has happened in your life and review it. I mean all of it.
I’ll give you a short example taken from my life. My parents died within six months of each other: first my Dad when I was 15; then my Mom when I was 16. Both my parents died of cirrhosis of the liver. Because they each suffered from the progressive disease of alcoholism, they had been incapable of taking proper care of me for quite a while. Later in life, when I was able to look at the bigger picture, I was able to see that the need to fend for myself at such an early age led to me developing into the person I ultimately became.
I did not (or felt that I could not) rely on others. I went out and did things for myself. I worked very hard to accomplish my goals because I knew there was no one (or so I thought at the time) to help me. At the same time, I went out of my way to help others who were in similar situations. This is a huge positive that came out of a negative experience early in life.
I ask you to try and look beyond the hurt or resentment of any one experience. Try to pull back and look at the big picture to see how the situation has made you a better person. You will find something positive there. Believe me. Everything happens for a purpose.
This article originally appeared at selfgrowth.com