Can you believe it’s almost a new year? Have you had a chance to even think about it yet?
Many of us make New Year’s resolutions in hopes that we can change some old habits, get fitter, healthier, and happier. However, we often unconsciously prepare for failure. Nobody wants to be disappointed, which is why we so often hold ourselves back from dreaming of big, beautiful realities ahead. This is especially true if you’ve been hurt or disappointed in the past, where restraining hope was once a self-protective reflex.
While circumstances come and go, and some challenges are inevitable, we do have some ability to shape the course of our lives, even in small ways.
I believe this is the perfect time of year to let your imagination run wild with the dreams of your best possible self. In fact, this exercise is scientifically proven to make you happier . Take a some time to meditate on these questions:
What do you really want from your life?
What would be the best-case scenario of your life, 1 year or even 5 years from now?
Where would you like to travel to or live?
What would you like to be doing?
Who are the people you would like in your social sphere?
Visualizing your best possible life can be a powerful mental exercise. Have you ever seen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? It's a great inspiration for the kind of mental voyage you will be embarking on. Find a quiet and peaceful place, close your eyes and just let your imagination carry you to limitless future realities.
In a world full of mundane obligations and heavy realities, daydreaming can be one way to keep hope alive. Many of the greatest creative thinkers of our time famously immersed themselves in the realm of imagination in order to stay engaged and positive in times of struggle. While bedridden with disease, the writer Marcel Proust would journey back to his fondest memories of life’s simple pleasures (like savoring that ever-famous madeleine cookie) to create beautiful and intricate literary landscapes. Neurologist and holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, often called upon visions of his life and his future as an intellectual and scholar that helped him to transcend and survive the mental torture of being imprisoned at Auschwitz. These examples demonstrate the mighty power of our visions and thoughts to fuel us forward in creating and realizing our greatest gifts.
In these days and months before the new year, I encourage you to let yourself dream a little. Think about what you want to be, have and do in the year ahead, calling upon the people and experiences that you find most beautiful, attractive, and inspiring. At some point, I encourage you to put your dreams in writing or some other kind of visual representation.
I’m currently geeking out on my 2018 Passion Planner. It’s a beautiful space to declare goals and dreams for the year ahead, and deconstruct them into actionable steps. After all, dreams do not magically come true. But keeping goals and dreams at the forefront of the mind, we can stay motivated to work hard in creating the lives we want to live. Writing, talking about, and visualizing the things we want can also help us recognize opportunities when they appear in our lives: we can look to our plans and intentions to determine when situations and experiences appear to align with our deepest desires.
As the poet Langston Hughes urged, we must hold fast to dreams. In every passing moment of our lives, there is some space to cultivate the goodness within and all around us. Let's begin by planting the seeds.
1. Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1, 73-82.