A lesson from Burma: taking time to forge new beginnings
So it’s January; the least favourite month for so many of us. It’s dark, grey, cold, and the holiday season seems like a lifetime ago. We have passed the shortest day but Spring seems a good way off. Having scrutinised the pennies, many of us have now embarked on the beans on toast regime after the Christmas all consuming blow out. And by this point around the middle of the month even those resolutions we made in a burst of optimism and determination as Big Ben hailed in the New Year, have very possibly started to go by the wayside…already!
New Year for me was spent in a remote mountainous area of Burma, partying with the locals until the wee hours followed by an early morning baptism of fire in the form of a 12 mile trek! Our steep morning ascent battling aching heads and 30 degree heat was rewarded with a mouth-watering lunch in a hill-top village prepared lovingly by this small community.
In common with all those we encountered they were people seemingly delighted by the contact with the outside world that the re-emergence of tourism has brought, since the release of Democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest 3 years ago.
To spend a few weeks somewhere relatively untarnished by the modern world is a great opportunity to strip back the mental constraints of our often manic, modern life and to observe a happier more relaxed attitude to living.
“We are ready for change and hope for the best; but we don’t lose sight of the importance of day to day happiness…” a local woman said to me, who had recently opened her house up to children to learn English.
Are there lessons to be learned from this? With the added stress that paradoxically greater wealth and opportunity can bring, is it still possible to achieve a similar state of mind?
And should New Year really be all about diets we won't stick to and gym memberships that end up being a waste of money; or is it an opportunity to look at our lives more holistically and take some action for lasting change that may bring a greater wealth of 'day to day' happiness?
Regardless of our feelings about this time of year, January is a timely month for reflection, consolidation of past achievements and an opportunity to set out our stalls for the year ahead. It’s a chance for us to take control and decide on the changes WE want to make in life; not what we feel others would like us to do (or what a magazine tells us we should look like!)
So here are 4 suggestions to get you in the mood for some lasting new beginnings:
1) Do an audit of your life and make a list of all the positive things in it…your strengths, what you have achieved, what’s going well, the people who mean a great deal. It’ll help you get into the most resourceful state of mind possible, recognise what you value about your life, and is the foundation for any changes you want to make.
2) Write out your intentions for the year…what do you want out of it, and what personal qualities and very importantly mind-set do you want to develop to make it happen? Be creative! Turn these intentions into a visual collage perhaps, or a piece of writing; display it/carry it around with you. Take a bit of time over this to make sure it really does reflect what your inner self would like to happen this year.
3) Starting with a small action you can achieve quickly will spur you on to achieve more. Starting small can make a big impact!
4) And try and stick to it; even if you have lapses and have to do a few re-writes! A few steps back doesn’t mean you’re at the bottom of the mountain again. Pick yourself up and keep going. New beginnings can happen any time you choose…
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