For July, the month in which I will be turning the big three-o, I wanted a challenge that would really make an impact in my life. So far, most of the challenges I’ve been doing – apart from the 30-day-turned-into-90-day yoga challenge perhaps – were not what you’d call “life changing.” They were more like projects I wanted to tackle (such as the photo book challenge or the work on my blog challenge) or ways to push myself a little to try new things (like the recipe challenge).
So I started evaluating my life. What areas would I like to improve in? What were the 10 resolutions I set myself to in the beginning of the year?
I smiled when I read resolution number 9: I wanted to stop putting myself first. Now that might sound a little weird, but I think what I really meant is that I wanted to be more mindful of other people and their needs. I wanted to help out more often, make more kind gestures, be more attentive and improve my listening skills. Research shows that helping others or altruism is one of the keys to happiness. Not only are people who help others happier, but happier people generally reach out to others more. It’s a virtuous circle, I guess.
While thinking about this, a book I had read last year came to mind: 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong. I had borrowed it from the library because I wanted to become more compassionate – and I still do. After learning about compassion, the first step, Armstrong suggests to develop compassion for yourself. I think I could use some practice on that side.
That said, I wanted to make this month’s challenge about others rather than myself. But as “being more loving” is quite broad and necessarily involves yourself – after all, how can one be more loving towards others if he/she is not loving towards him-/herself? – I decided to break this challenge up into several sub challenges, or concrete ways to implement my two main goals – to be more loving towards myself and towards others.
Ways to be more loving:
- Smile more to people;
- Reach out to other people more often;
- Have positive conversations;
- Make more loving gestures to my husband;
- Be more considerate;
- Improve my listening skills;
- Be more forgiving towards myself and others.
I realize this is a whole set of challenges that will take life-long practice to master rather than just a month. There is no way I will be able to implement all these at all times. However, I will make an effort to at least improve a little in these areas the coming month. I am curious to find out if I am able to succeed in this challenge and whether it will increase my happiness. To be continued…!