Last January I decided to follow Jon Gordon’s concept/book and chose One Word to focus on for the entire year, instead of the typical New Year’s Resolutions.
I was at a point in my life that I really wanted to live life with love and peace. The fighting between my two boys, tantrums from my 5-year-old daughter and the combined stress of a baby and adjustment to 4 kids, a move to another region away from family, and a traveling husband really made this desire more of a necessity.
The word I chose was LOVE.
My plan was-
Unconditional love of myself
Unconditional love of my husband
Parenting with unconditional love at all times (especially those times I wanted to run away!)
Treating everyone, including strangers, with love.
You can click here for details on the original plan and more on Jon Gordon (such a positive motivator!).
I’ll admit the irony of having a blog with the focus on the role of LOVE in wellness and having to set an intention to actually live that way!
Honestly, until this past year, I didn’t truly understand what it meant to live a life with love. And more importantly, how powerful and transformational it can be.
I learned so much during my year dedicated to love, including realizing that love is way more comprehensive that you might initially think. Love is about relationships, but isn’t mushy and all roses. Love is real and authentic.
Love is your relationship with yourself, how you treat others and really view life in general.
I confirmed (through my own and others’ experiences, as well as divulging myself into learning about love) my hunch when I start this blog that LOVE does play a crucial role in wellness.
Love is the foundation for behavior change. Love is the foundation for healthy relationships. Love is the foundation for living a fulfilling and happy life. Love is the foundation for positivity.
Living life with love doesn’t mean that you bury any negative feelings you have and pretend like everything is perfect.
It means that you fully acknowledge every feeling you have, especially the negative ones, but you don’t let them consume you. In fact, often just acknowledging that you are feeling a certain way takes the power away from the feeling and you can choose to view the situation differently.
Which brings me to my next point – there is an amazing power in choosing to view every situation out of love.
This is easy with the positive, happy situations in our life, and not so easy (and often feels near impossible) during the challenging times.
It is the times when you feel intense stress, sadness, hurt or betrayal; the times when horrible things have happened to you or around you; even just watching the news and seeing the devastation, hatred and anger that happens every day in the world makes it really challenging to see positive or feel love sometimes.
It is during these times that our natural reactions are often anger, negativity, hopelessness, worry, or fear. It’s hard to get over wrongdoings, mistakes or issues from the past; self-care goes out the window; we forget what is truly important. We may even have an intense need to fix things and to somehow control how others are acting.
But, we can’t. And it is during these times that we need love the most.
Since love & positivity are often not natural reactions for me during challenging or stressful times, I have found that I need reminders. I have to remind myself that… it is not only o.k. to choose love over fear & negativity during hard times, but it is good for my well-being and for those around me.
Also a reminder that we are all human. Not only is it a part of life to make mistakes and go through hard times, it is these times that we learn the most. These are the times that allow for growth.
It truly is life changing to be able to re-frame every situation to find the positives and view it as a way for growth, instead of focusing on the bad parts.
When you have certain thoughts or behaviors engrained in your mind, body and soul it can be difficult to change. Whether it is self-talk, healthy eating, exercise, addiction or a more self-destructive behavior, or how you deal with stress, people or life in general, change is easier with unconditional self-love.
During this year dedicated to love, reminders of 5 things seemed to keep popping up. I embraced them and thought—could these be the key components of love?
- Passion and Purpose
I don’t think there is anything more powerful on your health, happiness and quality of life than gratitude. I started writing in a gratitude journal before I went to bed every night several years ago. Eventually, I didn’t need to write in the journal because being grateful came naturally.
Gratitude is accepting anything sucky that happens and then finding something (anything, no matter how small!) positive from the situation and focusing on being grateful for that.
Often when we want change, it’s easy to focus on how other people have it better, or how we want to lose weight, have more money, a bigger house, a better job or more happiness. But change is hard to happen until you are grateful for what you already have.
It is amazing how focusing on gratitude can really change your entire life. The best part is that when you view life with gratitude it starts spilling off to those around you (and what a great thing to teach our children!)
Being introduced to the power of presence has helped me realize how much my mind has been full of chatter. Man I have wasted a lot of energy worrying about the future or thinking about something that happened in the past. No wonder I have had stomach problems all these years! Worry causes a lot of stress and anxiety and makes it impossible to enjoy the moment.
Learning about mindfulness, accepting the past and having faith in the future have allowed me to enjoy the moment. It makes love, peace and positivity much easier!
Putting down my cell phone, taking a step back from social media, giving whomever I was talking to my full attention (meaning truly paying attention to each word and not thinking about what I was going to say next!), and taking the headphones off when I was exercising in nature were all ways that I was able to bring more presence into my life.
One way to be more present is to have self-compassion. How many times do you beat yourself up for something you did (even those insignificant mistakes) or think about what you should be doing, instead of being in the moment?
Often when this happens, it’s a sign that you need to give yourself extra love. Acknowledge your feelings, accept the past and the present, forgive yourself, and know that you are perfect just the way you are!
We are too hard on ourselves and need more self-love!
Connection with others plays a crucial role in our life, but having compassion takes the experience to another level.
We are all humans and we all deserve love, but more often we don’t treat everyone equally. Being compassionate includes non-judgment, empathy, forgiveness, and kindness. It’s not looking down on someone because they have made mistakes, it is loving them even more because of it.
At our core, we are all the same, and everyone wants to feel love.
Compassion and presence are the two areas that have transformed my relationship with myself, my husband, my children, and even strangers!
There are so many uncertainties in our lives and not having a sense of faith makes it near impossible to live a life with love.
You don’t have to be religious to have faith. It doesn’t matter if you believe in a God, the Universe, a higher power or something that you don’t even know what it is, but having faith that everything will work out makes life much easier!
Faith also allows for you to feel that you have a greater sense of purpose in the world. It gives you the courage to take a risk and follow your dream.
Passion and Purpose
Living life with gratitude, being present, having compassion for yourself and others and having faith all pave the way for living life with purpose.
Finding a greater sense of purpose combined with following my passion was the most surprising, but biggest piece of the love and wellness puzzle.
I know that I have a very valuable job of raising 4 children and supporting my husband in a career that he influences people. I know just the way I choose to interact with those around me and give back are all purposeful things in life. But, I can’t help thinking, what if I could have a greater purpose or impact in the world?
What if I pursue my passion, which improves my overall wellness, and I could influence people to improve their wellness at the same time?
I don’t know the result and it could be a big waste of time and energy, but I am not worrying about that, I have faith. I am grateful that I know what my passion is and feel a greater sense of purpose because of it; I am choosing to stay present and focus on the words as I write them, not the outcome; and when I write, it will be with a sense of compassion for myself and others.
Choosing to follow your passion & having a sense of purpose are important components of self-love.
These are the reasons that after almost 9 months Love Well Live Well is back! I can’t wait to share more about this area of passion and purpose and what else is in store.
As time went on during this past year gratitude, presence, compassion and faith became my natural first reaction more often.
But, I’m not perfect and there were plenty of times (as recent as a few days ago!) that I reacted with anger or frustration first and yelled at my kids or snapped at my husband. There were plenty of times that I was multitasking and not giving my full attention or being present.
There were times that I got irritated or upset with a situation instead of finding the positives or being grateful. There were times when I had fear and doubt, instead of faith. And there were more times than not that I would try to quit or make excuses instead of following my passion.
The key difference as time went on was that I rebounded more quickly. Realizing, often immediately, that this was not the way I wanted to live my life. Reminding myself that I choose love.
Reminding myself that I feel better physically and emotionally when I choose love. And most importantly, reminding myself that I am human and so is everyone else. Life is full of chances to mess up, but also chances to improve and to change.
In what started out as a quest to add more love into my life, ended with a completely different outlook on life. I realized that love, like wellness, was made up of multiple components. All of these pieces bring more love, positivity and authenticity to my marriage, parenting, relationships and encounters with strangers.
I dreamed up the idea for Love Well Live Well years before it actually came into fruition. I knew holistic wellness was important because there are so many areas affected, but didn’t realize at the time, or really even when I started this blog, that LOVE is the foundation for wellness.
When you practice gratitude, presence, self-compassion, have faith and a sense of purpose in life, things like exercise, eating healthy, stress management, positive relationships, and happiness all come a little more naturally.
You will have more success with behavior change and creating a life you love.
Change is not always a smooth process and reminders are very helpful, especially when things get hard. If you need positive reminders, as well, Love Well Live Well will be here for you!
I will have practical tips, personal stories (hopefully as a source of inspiration and encouragement), and ideas to get you thinking about how you want to live life. I have many more tips and examples on the ideas mentioned above to share (and I promise not as long-winded at this post!)
Everything will be around holistic wellness (basically all areas of your life!) and will be filled with love and gratitude!
You can receive updates via email (look for the subscribe button on the side of the blog), RSS feed , Follow my blog with Bloglovin, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn or just bookmark the lovewell-livewell.com and come back whenever you need a little love and encouragement in your life!
Hope to hear from you!!
Lots of love and gratitude!