Happy Chinese New Year!

The 1st of February marks the first day of the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese calendar, or to be more precise, The Water Tiger.

 

The date of Chinese New Year changes every year as it is celebrated during the second new moon after the winter solstice, which usually falls between January 21 and February 20 on the Gregorian calendar.

 

This year, the year of the Water Tiger symbolises recovery and growth. It is believed to be a year that will bring about change, and one that encourages people to overcome all challenges and difficulties. This is in part because the Tiger symbolises strength and bravery and a Water Tiger, in particular, is inclined toward new ideas and experiences. I think after the past two years we are all ready for something new!

 

I have to say I love the Chinese Horoscope and find it bizarrely accurate! If you are interested in finding out more about your own sign and the strengths and traits that go with it, my favourite book on the subject is The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes by Theodora Lau.

Photo By Mehdi

Perhaps the start to the Chinese New Year is another opportunity to reset your intentions for the year ahead.

If you had a mad flurry of resolution setting on 1st January and you are now reaping rewards – huge congratulations! However, if like me, those resolutions simply create a little more stress in your life, now is the perfect time to let them go!

I realised a long time ago that New Year Resolutions rarely brought me joy. Whilst they were set with the greatest of intentions I hardly ever managed to keep them, which is not exactly empowering! I suspect we have all been there – or perhaps it is just me?!

Instead of creating resolutions, I like to use January as a month to regroup and reflect. For that reason it is actually one of my favourite months of the year –  the opportunity to think about my aspirations for 2022.

 

Last year, my aspiration was to be consciously grateful.

 

Whenever 2021 threw yet another curveball, I turned my focus to what I was grateful for, in spite of the challenges.

 

My plan was to write a daily gratitude journal which is a wonderful habit to develop; at the end of the day, before going to sleep, you write down three things that you are grateful for that day. However, if I’m honest I didn’t always manage to write my journal, I was often more focussed on getting my head on the pillow!

Instead, every night before going to sleep I tapped on each fingertip and thought of TEN things I was grateful for. Not very taxing, but hugely rewarding!

 

It sends you off to sleep in a happy, calmer frame of mind, thereby improving the quality of your sleep. In addition, a growing body of research shows that practising gratitude on a daily basis enhances both emotional and  physical wellbeing.

 

In fact, one study of 1,600 people showed that keeping a gratitude journal for only 14 days resulted in

  • significantly increased happiness, greater satisfaction with life and a higher resilience to stress on an emotional level, and
  • fewer headaches and less stomach pain on a physical level

 

Therefore, whilst gratitude was last year’s aspiration, it is so powerful, I’m keeping it forever!

 

So, my aspiration for this year? Adventure.

 

But this doesn’t mean I am setting off to hike through the Andes on foot! More that I aspire to have bite sized adventures every day – and more importantly, to create the space for these to happen.

Basically, my aspiration is to arrange my life in such a way as to have time to work and play!

 

As writer Vivian Greene said:

 

And let’s face it, the past two years have had one or two storms!

My inspiration for this lifestyle adjustment was triggered by reading the book Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. He suggests the key to becoming more productive and fulfilled in every aspect of your life is to actually to work less and relax more! What is not to love!

I would highly recommend you read the book yourself, but if you don’t have time (!) the key point is that by creating more down-time in your life you actually become more productive during your working hours.

 

The book contains many fascinating case histories which refer to some of the most remarkable and successful people in history. I found it extraordinary that that these prolifically productive people all seemed to have time to go for a walk, a siesta and lunch every day and still be leaders in their field of expertise. The guidance to create the space for rest includes:

  • Taking rest seriously  – it is not a weakness. Did you know Churchill had a siesta every day during World War II?
  • Focus i.e. structure your daily schedule around unbroken periods of focussed work e.g. a 2 hour block of time with no distractions. You will get so much more done when you don’t multi task or allow yourself to be distracted by notifications or phone calls!
  • Altnernating work and rest. Switch periods of intensive work with periods of deliberate rest throughout the day. This gives your subconscious mind time to discover solutions to problems that are eluding you.
  • Detatching completely from work and devices – truly leave work behind when on a break – even if it is for a short amount of time, such as a lunch break. Psychologists find that people who do this are happier amd more productive at work
  • Starting work early. You tend to be more creative in the morning, and it also then give you more time to rest later in the day!
  • Taking a week off work every season – I genuinely think this is so important. Personally I think a least one 2 week holiday a year is vital. Ideally we would all be able to jet of somewhere exotic, but a week at home seeing friends and doing something different is just as replenishing
  • Taking up/investing more time in a hobby – something that takes you into a state of focussed relaxation – yoga, gardening, rock climbing, whatever makes you feel creative and involved
  • Getting daily exercise
  • Geting 8 hours sleep a night

 

Many of these will not be new ideas to you. The truth is, the foundation of good health is already set in stone:

  • Good diet
  • Exercise
  • Spiritual nourishment
  • Sleep

 

So whilst some of the principles of Rest may not be revelationary, I hope they add an extra layer of possibility to make 2022 a happy and healthy year for you. One where you have time for adventures!

 

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