Ahhh, New Years. The time of year when people take stock of where they are, set an intention/resolution, and swear that this time things will be different. Sound familiar?
"This will be the year when I:
a) Get in shape/healthy/laid
b) Give up smoking/alcohol/gluten
c) Find the perfect job/partner/cheesecake recipe"
And while all those are desirable changes, they don’t really matter.
Hear me out. I’m all for making changes, growing, and creating a life you love. But chances are that what you’re truly seeking won’t come from a number on a scale or in your bank account. And that’s because the goal of every goal is happiness.
Let’s say your goal is to find a better job. You may think that a new job will help you to spend more time with your family, buy a nicer car, or even get more sleep. And sure, it may. But ultimately, isn’t the purpose behind all those intentions the feeling of joy? And wouldn’t it be great if you could cut straight to the part where you feel great without having to wait for your boss to realize your worth?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not selling complacency or a hokey meditation CD. I think happiness takes hard work. Just not the kind of hard work we’re used to. We spend so much time pursuing validation and external happiness that we don’t realize that we’re caught in a cycle of effort, achievement, excitement, and ensuing crash.
And after riding that crazy carnival ride for what feels like forever, I’ve decided that the best course of action is to do what’s right for me and f**k everything else.
And that’s because there are 2 ways to feel happy:
- You can set goals like the ones above and slowly chip away at the things that aren’t working, doing lots of guesswork as to which goals will bring about the outcome you want to feel.
- Or, you can choose what’s best for you and allow things to naturally fall into place.
So how do you do that in a practical and meaningful way?
Live in Alignment.
Change the “rules you must follow” to mean living what you deeply feel is true to you.
Change “happiness” from the feeling you get from external gains to the feeling you get when you live in alignment with your truth. (Reading how cheesy that sounds just made me puke a little, but I stand by it.)
Let me give you an example from this past year. In 2015, I came close to marrying someone who wasn’t right for me. Having picked out the ring, we began planning our future. And while I thought that our life together would make me happy, I couldn’t ignore the truth: the cost of being in that relationship meant giving up who I was. And that’s a price I’m not willing to pay. Living in alignment meant making the painful decision to leave the relationship. It meant listening to that nagging voice in your head, no matter whether or not I liked it. In the short term, alignment felt like shit. However, it paved the way for more happiness than I thought possible.
And that’s because living in alignment means getting out of your own way. It means allowing joy to flow in simply by choosing to stop blocking it. When we create space for good things to come in, that's when the magic happens. So how do you do this?
- In what areas of my life and I not being true to myself?
- In what areas am I not expressing myself fully?
- In what areas am I not respecting my boundaries or allowing others not to respect them?
- In what areas do I feel one way, but act another?
- What parts of me would I like to cultivate more of?
Once you’ve identified the areas in which you’ve turned your back on yourself, act on it. Without exception. Sound extreme? That’s because it is. Returning to authenticity comes with a price. Leaving situations that no longer serve you may mean cutting ties with people and places you’ve grown accustomed to. It may feel like the world is ending. And in some ways it is. The world in which you need to compromise who you are to feel fleeting happiness is over. And while it can be painful, it comes with a feeling of calm, surrender, and relief. Those three ingredients combine to create lasting joy. And whether you choose the cycle of achievement/crash or living in alignment, make your decision decisively. Do it consciously so you don’t spend another year wondering how you got the results you have.
This year, screw your resolution. Set a goal to live your best life. Live in alignment with what you feel to be your truth and watch your life begin to shift. In other words, Align Your Life.