3 Lessons to Take Into 2022

Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels.

Ahh, 2022. The year of, broadly speaking, the same things happening as in 2021, just without the novelty. But let’s not start the year with pessimism — what we miss out on in originality, we make up for in experience. With that in mind, here are three lessons that we can take into the new year to change our lives for the better.

  1. Do difficult things on Mondays

Sometimes when you start the working week, the last thing you want to do is draft up a long, complicated email; or have a difficult conversation with a colleague or, to be fair, do anything that requires the use of more than a few braincells that have remained awake during the weekend.

In fact, in any area of life, the motivation to do difficult things can evade us. The problem is that the longer we put off the things we don’t want to do, the more difficult they can become. The wall of psychological resistance builds up in our minds until it becomes even more impenetrable than when the issue first arose.

The solution is to do difficult things as soon as possible. Start the week, and every day, with what’s difficult, and you’ll create the momentum to soar through everything else. Breaking down mental barriers as soon as they are created becomes easier with practice and will motivate you to keep making progress.

So, charge head-first into life like an overexcited dog who has just seen a squirrel. Except instead of a squirrel it’s an, albeit slightly less exciting (and fluffy), email.

2. Don’t think of pink elephants

Carl Jung famously said, “What you resist persists.”

If you try to not think of a pink elephant, you’ll find that suddenly your brain becomes particularly interested in thinking about that very thing. Try it now — don’t think of something for a few seconds. Did you manage it? We like to think that we have complete mental autonomy until that large rosy trunk sneaks into our mind’s eye.

When you create resistance in the mind, it seems to work against you.

This resistance is like building a dam to stop the flow of thoughts, only to create a build-up of pressure that bursts through in a stream of everything you tried to hold back. We know that suppressing our emotions is unhealthy, and it seems that this might apply to all our thoughts too.

Meditation, for example, teaches us to accept our thoughts. To allow them to appear freely and, crucially, to disappear again. At no point do you need to engage with the thought. You simply allow it to exist as part of the natural flow in your mind. Similarly, the notion of craving after something — like a tasty cookie — can also be a recipe for an unhealthy state of mind (and unfortunately not a recipe for the cookie). Engaging with that desire keeps thoughts around and slows down the flow of the mind.

Next time you’re met with a strong and possibly unpleasant thought, instead of suppressing it, or chasing after it, why not try to set it — and your mind — free?

3. Let your ideas be free

Thoughts are not the only things we need to set free. Sometimes we hold back our ideas too. Human beings have the unique ability to — in an admittedly circuitous way — turn food into ideas. We eat food, which powers our brains, which generates thought and leads to ideas.

A food-fuelled mind can come up with the theory of relativity, or a symphony or, uh, a picture of a cat destroying a Christmas tree with the caption: “CATastrophTREE”…

Admittedly some ideas are created better than others (and that cat pun is way up there).

We all have this incredible ability to create, but sometimes we choose not to share. We might think our creations aren’t good enough, or are not ready, or we might fear what other people will think.

The truth is that nothing is ever completely ready. Sharing an idea does not equate to losing it or announcing to the world that this is all that you are capable of. It is simply a first draft, or a work in progress, or an interesting thought that, instead of hiding away, you have chosen to share with others.

Sharing ideas comes with a huge amount of freedom and empowerment. From our perspective, it frees up the space in our minds to come up with new ideas or build on a current one. It allows us to create a unique mark in the world.

But more than that, it gives others the opportunity to engage with a new idea. One that they can add to, or be inspired by, or that might lead to new interactions or relationships. Suddenly your idea doesn’t solely exist in the mind that created it but in a multitude of new minds as well.

It’s a unique feature of humankind that we can continually create and be inspired, and by putting your ideas out there into the world, you are taking the first step.

I hope you found this post helpful. If you did, you might like my accompanying YouTube videos here: 1, 2 & 3. I’m also always grateful for any feedback on my writing if you have a few minutes to leave a response!

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