As the first day of 2011 approaches, this day commemorates the start of another year and a new beginning. Along with celebrations, this day should also be a time to reflect, mourn the passing of 2010 and to move forward into 2011. When you think back about this year in solitude and in a peaceful state of mind – what memories do you have for 2010? Was it a memorable year bursting with lots of activity, spirituality and loving moments? Did you move towards becoming the ‘better person’ that you’ve been striving to become? Do you feel satisfied, content and happy with the passing of this year? And most importantly, if you were to die tomorrow how would you be remembered and what type of legacy would you leave for your children, family, community, country and future generations?
These are a few key questions each and every one of us must ask ourselves when we are self-reflecting and trying to find some balance, simplicity, routine and happiness in our daily lives. However, if you didn’t answer these questions favourably – there is still hope! With every passing moment, you are making a decision about how you will be living your life and only you have control over that thought to do something in the form of action. Unfortunately, most of us have in the past or now live in a state of auto – pilot where we are living unconsciously. In this state, if we are not making proactive decisions ourselves, then these decisions are becoming decided for us. For example, if you are choosing (whether consciously or subconsciously) not to exercise and take care of yourself – your body will eventually decide for you with an illness or condition. This news may come in the form of a crisis or warning and may have been preventable in the first place. But even after being diagnosed with having a higher risk of a heart attack, diabetes or cancer by your physician – the ultimate question then is whether you are making the conscious effort to exercise or eat healthier even after its been suggested to do so!
Living in a conscious state of mind will help you to become proactive about your decision-making in all areas of your life. And this is where the concept of balance becomes important. Whether it’s about managing finances, parenting, your health, or your level of consumption as an individual or family – you are making some sort of decision and you are choosing how you want to live your life. These proactive decisions will then support you to get back to who you are in your truest ideal form. It is believed that we do not need to go outside to search for our ‘true selves’ but that we are really there all along. It is during your most quiet times of solitude and reflection (such as during meditation) when you can ‘tap into’ this truest version of yourself. And it is this authentic self that will help you to get back to your child-like spontaneous, content and happy self.
Shifting gears now, let’s talk about how your life choices actually influence all areas in your life. This year may have been a very difficult one for you financially, mentally, emotionally, physically and/or spiritually and you may have struggled to maintain a happy and healthy balance amongst all of these areas.
As you probably know, even if one of these areas in your life becomes ‘off kilter’, then all other areas will have been strained and challenged as well. For example, if you were laid off this year, your loss in financial stability will have put all the other areas out of balance until you were able to find that elusive balance again. Here, you may have been conflicted with being supportive, empathetic, or loving in all your relationships.
But on the flip side, this challenge may have strengthened your support–system and the way in which you connected with others. Here, most aspects of your life and relationships may have become much more positive and rewarding. With either way of coping, this financial, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual crisis can be viewed as an opportunity to become a better and loving human being. More importantly, a setback does not need to define you and the remaining of your life. So indeed, you have the power to choose to move on even after a calamity.
After discussing balance, we can now get back to re-discovering your child-like spontaneity, satisfaction, and happiness. But how do we achieve this state of mind amongst all of the conflicting circumstances and relationships? While you are striving to become a ‘better’ person, it is also your responsibility to do your part in bettering your community around you. In the country of Denmark for instance, people there have created a community and government that is based upon the entire community’s core beliefs, values and morals instead of a few powerful and rich decision-makers. Interestingly, in Denmark – a balance between work and family life is inherently valued. And most Danish leave work by 4 or 4:30 pm to buy their daily food staples, to then return home to cook and eat their meals together everyday.
Also, in Denmark, 1/3 of their population uses bicycles as their main form of transportation and generally they consume, own minimal belongings and live in much smaller spaces to reflect their respect for the environment and consumerism. Here the Danish believe that less space and less material belongings will equate to more life. And homelessness, poverty and unemployment are extremely low there. If a person loses their job, the government continues to pay up to ninety percent of their salary for four years and maternity leave for women can be from six months to a year. Last of all education (even University education), healthcare and childcare is absolutely free there. However to enjoy these societal benefits, the Danes pay high income taxes and willingly do so because they believe that it is their responsibility to do so. So, it is their core beliefs and values of respecting and honouring the vulnerable that are reflected in their actions individually and collectively.
People from Denmark are also are more spiritual than they are religious and a Danish woman is not compelled to marry unless she really wants to share her life with someone. There is no pressure in this culture to marry and in fact there seems to be a very liberal perception about women having children without ever marrying. So in this country, the focus is on the relationships instead of the institution of marriage. With government policies and morals such as these, it is no wonder that researchers have named the Dames as the happiest people on Earth.
The intention of using the Danes as an example is not to get us to move there or to create a carbon copy of their society. In fact, the purpose is to show how other countries and communities have found a balance between work and life and how they have managed to reflect their core beliefs in the way they govern their society. We can truly learn from countries such as Denmark not only to better ourselves, but also to strengthen and solidify our core beliefs, values and morals collectively. The elimination of fears is evident in societies that preserve, protect, and advocate on behalf of the vulnerable such as the poor, the sick, the young and the elderly and how we choose to treat these vulnerable groups in our society is a great insight as to how advanced we truly are. In ending, here are ten key strategies that you can use consistently to re-align yourself with your child-like, authentic and happy self again. Happy Diwali!
Keys to Balance and Happiness in 2011:
- Spend more time with your family and friends to nurture these relationships
- Laugh and dance more! And learn to laugh at yourself – life really doesn’t have to be THAT serious ALL the time – does it?
- Be more spontaneous
- Participate in activities that bring you contentment and happiness
- Give back to the community through volunteering or Seva and provide mentorship to others
- Take care of your all areas of your health (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and financial)
- Read good books and travel more
- Meditate daily and keep a private journal of your most sacred thoughts, feelings & dialogue with yourself
- Daily write and read your goals & affirmations. Affirmations are positive attributes or characteristics.
- Daily compliment & support friends, family, co-workers, strangers and yourself!