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What Was The Best Year Of Your Life?

What Was The Best Year Of Your Life?

Some years ago, I sat in my Spanish class together with three other students. The teacher asked the question:

What was the best year of your life?

My answer was clear within a second, yet I had to wait until it was my turn. The first person to answer was a blonde woman sitting on the right end of our circle. She was in her early 20’s and said: “The best year of my life was when I was 15 years old. I played a lot with my friends and was outside in the nature.” Suddenly, there was joy in her voice. A man in his 50’s answered: “The best year of my life was the time when I studied. I was regularly going to parties and had many friends. I was free to do what I wanted.” His eyes turned radiant for a moment. A woman in her 40’s remembered: “Well, I had just fallen in love with my husband. We did many activities together; we danced and went to the cinema. It was lovely. We also made many weekend trips to visit places all over Europe.” Her eyes gleamed while she saw Rome and Paris in her inner mind. Her voice was full of love and her gestures vivid.

It was great to listen to their answers, yet I also felt a touch of sadness. While remembering these nostalgic moments, their facial and corporal postures had changed completely. Suddenly, they transmitted a level of joy and happiness that seemed forever lost in everyday life. Silently, I asked myself:

What do they need to do to make this year the best year of their life?

Then it was my turn. For a second, I hesitated to say my answer because it was different and did not fit. Finally, I said: “The best year of my life is the current year.” The years have passed by, and this statement is still true. It does not mean that everything in my life went perfect, I faced some unexpected twists and turns. And with all that, each year is the best year of my life. I am 41 now, and I look with positive anticipation of what the future will bring.

You can make each year the best year of your life, too. The following practices will help you on your journey:

  • Practicing gratitude: Sometimes, we get distracted by all that what we don’t have and forget about what we have. Keep a gratitude journal and write down each day what you are grateful for. Notice the small steps you make, notice a sunny day with a beautiful blue sky or the loving smile you have received while waiting for your train. What are you grateful for?
  • Taking care of your emotional health: Don’t numb your feelings. In our society, it is usual to numb our feelings by different behaviours, such as using alcohol, online games, excessive shopping or eating. If you numb your feelings to avoid pain, you also won’t feel joy and happiness. Grief your losses, maybe it was a project you especially loved or a relationship. Allow yourself to feel the sadness, allow your tears to flow. They will clean your soul and help you to move forward. Every emotion that shows up in a specific moment has a meaning for your life. Connecting with your emotions and expressing them is a vital ingredient for your well-being. On a scale from 0 to 10, to which extent do you currently connect with your emotions?
  • Spend time alone in silence: The noise from the outside world is very loud, it offers us a huge range of distractions. Your partner, your family and even society may want to tell you how you are supposed to live your life. The urge to fulfill all these different expectations is tempting, however, is this your path? Does it feel right for you? You can find all the answers you need within yourself. What feels right for me, might not feel right for you. There is no right or wrong way to live your life; important is that you find the way that feels right for you. Take a time-out, and sit some minutes each day in silence, just you and your breath. Live the question and trust that the answer will arrive when the time is right.
  • Cherish the relationship with yourself: The relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship you will have in your entire life. It is also the longest relationship you will experience. Make it a good one. What can you do to cherish your relationship with yourself today? Do you see yourself as being good enough? Do you consider yourself as being worthy? Let go of the negative conditioning you might have received. Create a loving, cheerful and respectful relationship with yourself.

Now, take a deep breath and set your intention to make this year the best year of your life. Close your eyes and see yourself living the best year of your life. You are the magician of your life and have a magic wand. Change is always possible.

What is the first action that comes to your mind?

I’d love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below.

Do you want to find out more about taking care of your emotional well-being? Read this article about emotions.

Do You Think Emotions are Scary? Find out How to Manage Them Well!

Many years I regarded emotions as something scary, and I tried to suppress them as good as I could because I did not know what to do with them. I grew up in a family that never spoke about feelings, and I lived in Germany, and Germans tend to be rational and to live in their heads. Everything changed when I moved to Spain, the embodiment of emotionality where I learned to manage my feelings well. Today, my emotions add a beautiful blend of spices to my life. They give me precious signals and help me to live fully and energized.

Do you feel scared by your emotions? Do you try to suppress them or avoid feeling them?
Don’t worry, you are not alone. Many people haven’t learned to manage emotions properly. However, continuous suppression may result in anxiety, depression or psychosomatic symptoms like muscular tension or headache. Connecting with your emotions is healthy for your well-being. They aren’t scary, but they are valuable messengers for you that want to give you gentle advice.

How are feelings generated?
“My partner made me angry today.” Have you ever heard a similar sentence? Sometimes, it seems that other people can make us feel in a specific way, but the reality is different. Your emotion is generated by your thoughts about your partner’s actions or words. They can be conscious or subconscious, and they are influenced by your experiences and memories. Nobody can make you feel an emotion; your emotions are uniquely yours, and you are responsible for them.

So, where are your emotions?
Each emotion produces a sensation that you can observe in your body. This can be butterflies in your stomach when you fall in love or tension in your shoulders when you are stressed. Based on the emotion, you can note changes in the respiration or heartbeat, a tension in your body or sensations on your skin like goose bumps.

How do you connect with your emotions?
The first step is to be aware of what you feel. The following exercise can help you with this: schedule a session three times a day in your agenda, preferably in the morning, at lunch time and in the evening. During this session, take some deep breaths, tune in with your body and observe it. Don’t judge yourself. Every emotion or sensation that shows up is correct. There isn’t any right or wrong. Ask yourself the following questions to further explore your emotion: Where is it in your body? If it were a color what color would it be? If it were a shape what shape would it be? If it were a sound what sound would it be?

Emotions have a positive intention.
Each emotion has a positive intention for you, even though you might not be able to see it at first. E.g., I regarded anger as a negative emotion and didn’t feel comfortable with it. When I started to manage my feelings better, I found out that anger was a sign that I did not respect my limits or needs. I didn’t have to act on it; I just needed to be aware of it, to find out what it wanted to tell me and then I could choose an appropriate action like setting healthy boundaries in an assertive way. Through this learning, anger has lost its fierce aspect and has transformed into a precious messenger that indicates me that I should take care of me. Your emotions give you valuables signals for your well-being. Ask them what message they want to give you and what their positive intention is.

How can you cope with your emotions well?
You have many choices to cope with your emotions positively, and you should explore them to find out which ones serve you best. 
Here you can find some of them:

  • Writing about them in a journal.
  • Writing unsent letters, e.g. to an ex-partner.
  • Drawing them.
  • Talking to a friend you trust in.
  • Talking to a counselor you trust in.
  • Meditating.
  • Physical exercise like running or dancing.
  • Changing your body posture, e.g. instead of looking to the ground, looking up in the sky.

The better you cope with your emotions, the more energy you will have. This is a process that may require some time. You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to start the adventure.

What activity do you want to explore today?

I love to read your comments below!

Do you want to read more? Check the post How to use the power of your mind positively.

Forgiveness – Your Choice To Find Freedom

I listened to my friend’s voice on the phone, That Saturday, twenty years ago, I was ill, and she didn’t give me the right medication. She just didn’t see what I had. I had to go to the hospital to be properly medicated. His spouse happened to be a doctor and it seemed that she had made a mistake. He finished his story, I will never forget that she did this to me. I could hear the indignation in his voice. The anger and resentment was buried deep in his heart and he carried it around for twenty years now.

Listening to him, I wondered, How many similar stories were stored in his mind and in his spouse’s mind? How did they influence their relationship? How deep was the invisible crack produced by the anger and resentment in their relationship? My friend was a person who sought peace in relationships so I became curious and asked him, Have you ever thought about forgiveness? At the other end was silence. Then, he said, Forgiveness? His voice sounded astonished as if this option never had come into his mind. No, we have never forgiven each other. We are far away from this. He sighed.

What role does forgiveness play in your life?

It happens so often in a relationship: your spouse did you wrong and you feel hurt, angry and sad, maybe an unfair critique or even a betrayal. Each time, the invisible crack in the relationship and in the heart grows a bit deeper. Forgiveness seems impossible due to the involved injustice because there exists the general belief that forgiveness implies that we accept the unfair incidents or that we liberate the other person from their responsibility.
Yet, forgiveness is not about liberating others from their responsibility. If you forgive them,  they remain responsible for their actions and the involved consequences.

What do you win if you forgive? What will you lose?

Forgiveness is merely your decision that you let go of anger and resentment or the desire of revenge. This way you can liberate yourself from the painful story and move on with your life. It is not necessary that you still have a relationship with this person to forgive them. It is your inner process that will follow its own rhythm and will lead you to a higher level of well-being and healthier relationships. Medical studies show that practicing forgiveness leads to lower blood pressure and relieves stress. Without forgiveness you risk that you bring bitterness and anger into existing relationships and into new experiences. You may not be able to experience deep connectedness to other people.

How can you practice it?

If you feel ready to forgive somebody in your life, I propose to you the following exercise:
Set your intention to forgive this person, maybe it is your father or mother, your ex-spouse or your current partner, or a colleague at work. You can start by writing down all negative feelings you have about what happened to you. Allow yourself to describe all that you feel. Don’t judge your own feelings, allow them to emerge. If you have finished, you can burn the paper in a safe place. Now, think about what might have motivated the other person to act in such a way. It is likely that they wanted to avoid pain, perhaps they acted out of fear or maybe due to their childhood wounds. Try to see the world through their eyes and their experiences. Alternatively, you could also write the story out of the perspective of this person. How would they tell what happened? Try to understand their motivation, their weakness and their immaturity. Take all the time you need. Then, think about everything that you are grateful for and write it down. Everything is important, it doesn’t matter whether it is big or small. Finally, close your eyes, imagine the person in front of you and tell them I forgive you. Repeat these steps as often as you need to. If you get stuck in your process talk to a friend you trust in or ask for professional help.

What did you learn about forgiveness in your family?

I grew up in a family that rejected forgiveness and I have experienced as a child the never-ending cycle of bitterness and hatred that was toxic for the relationships and the emotional well-being of the involved people. I now practice forgiveness for my own well-being. If you decide to let go of anger and resentment, you will release the control and the power that the offending person and the situation has about your life, you will be able to move on with your life and to experience a higher level of inner peace and compassion as well as healthier relationships. If your mind regards forgiveness as difficult or impossible, this prospect should be a motivation to give it a try so that you can make your own experience.

What experiences did you make with forgiveness?

I look forward to reading your comments below!

Do you want to read more? Check the post How to become a Modern Hero.