Prompted by my third gear penchant for planning, I started thinking about my “new year’s resolutions” on a 92-degree day in mid-July. “Resolutions” felt a lot like that cod liver oil my mother shoved into our mouths in grammar school – good for you, but not something you enjoyed going down.
So, I abandoned the distasteful concept altogether, replacing it with longed-for intentions, experiences, and outcomes that I wanted in my life. Instead of starting there, with a tabula rasa, I posed this question:
How do I want to inhabit my life?
I liked the sound of those eight words all strung together with the possibilities inherent in the punctuation at the end. The simple answers came quickly – I wanted abundant gratitude, quiet joy, mental clarity, physical well-being, spiritual peace, and an ever-unfolding relationship with nature, books, and beauty. These are my constants and they felt right when I considered the new year, still months ahead. Yet, something was missing or, more accurately, I was missing something.
On that hot summer day, I knew that I had stumbled upon the key to living better in 2023, starting in the here and now. I simply needed to know how to unlock it. How do I want to inhabit my life? I let the question in my mind as I began to poke around for guidance and insight. In taking on this question as a companion, I became more still, more able to hear the answers as they arose from within.
I am the locksmith. While a good therapist and a trusted, supportive friend can be invaluable on the journey to inhabiting one’s life, most of the answers wait patiently within. They live in my knowing, ready to be claimed. I need to trust them. So, I did, and I grew pleasantly busy with actionable insight that I could embrace right then, because inhabiting a life shouldn’t wait until January.
Steppingstones for living your inhabited life
The specifics of my journey matter only to me. Here are some things to welcome in, to sit with, to consider, as you think about the possibilities for your inhabited life:
Put your inner critic in Silent Mode. That persistent voice is not your ally on this journey. The inner critic is caught up in an old story of how you “should be,” and scripts often based on how you and others think you should be.
Start listening to that other voice inside, the one you resist. What does your real, uncensored self-have to teach you about how to inhabit your life as your own creation? I know that this can sound like a bunch of woo-woo, because you may be unaccustomed to trusting your own counsel and acting on that inner wisdom. I took my long string of intention – abundant gratitude, quiet joy, mental clarity, physical well-being, spiritual peace, and an ever-unfolding relationship with nature, books, and beauty – and looked at where I was holding back, and what I could do to bring more of them into my lived experience.
Be more kind to yourself. Kindness turned inward teaches you to love and respect yourself and actually releases “feel good hormones” in the process. Then, a deeper, more authentic kindness toward others follows.
Live and let live. Loosen those spoken and mostly-unspoken expectations you have of others – and the judgments you make that are based on them. They lead to frustration and disappointment and take your attention away from where it can do the most good: in how you inhabit your life.
Make inhabiting your life your way forward. Don’t wait and don’t hold back. You deserve it.