Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

7 Life Lessons for a Brighter New Year

Arizona Sunrise

The Cycles of Life

Life runs in cycles. Peaceful periods give way to challenging times, which then melt into another emotional color until that one changes too. These cycles occur over minutes, weeks, months and years.

Greater peace of mind arrives when we accept that life will always be changing, and we’ll never truly know what will happen next.

At the same time, consolidating our life lessons builds our resilience so we can meet the cycles of life with greater joy and ease.  That’s precisely why I place value in a year-end review and the lessons that emerge from engaging with the right questions.

Some of my life lessons from last year were practical and some were profound.  Here are the most important lessons I learned.

1. Don’t Expect to Arrive

I didn’t expect to be waylaid by two months of bronchitis or two weeks of flat out back pain. I didn’t expect to receive new genetic information that changed my treatment plan and possible outcomes.

Life will surprise you. Whatever arises, try to take it in stride without labeling it “good” or “bad” or clinging to it as the final destination.  Don’t aim for a happy ending that never changes.

You can find greater peace and happiness by having this bigger perspective; not by expecting life to stay the same.

2. What Scared Me the Most Enriched Me the Most

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke once said that our deepest fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasures. Those words rang so strongly for me this past year.

I know that fear arises from attachment. Fear begins to lighten up when we can loosen our attachment and realize that we don’t own anyone or anything, including this body that we tend to cherish so dearly.

3. Get Real About Time

Although I loved the process and enjoy guiding the course, it took me twice as long to create and promote my Living with Ease e-course than I expected. I have to face the fact that I’m unrealistic about the amount of time it takes to complete a project to my satisfaction.

As a result, I’ve intentionally scaled down my 2015 aspirations so they are congruent with my time availability, energy, resources and desire for quiet.

4. Focus on the Priorities

I know I lost time last year by fiddling around too much on the internet, attempting to meet my perfectionist tendencies, or wasting myself on low priority activities. 2014 will be the year I improve my focus.

5. Listen to Your Inner Voice

I gave myself away not once, but twice in the last few weeks of the year even though my inner voice was shouting “no” in various ways. My ability to stay true to myself has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.  This was a beautiful reminder that I’m very much a work in progress, and need to further strengthen my ability to listen to myself.

6. The Power of Love and Gratitude

Love and gratitude changed the quality of my life last year. I was able to really let love in, which erases all those nonsensical ideas of not-being lovable or good enough. I also made a point of expressing my gratitude and love regularly. This makes life so much more relaxing and fun.

7. You Can’t Always Take Away the Suffering of Others

I’m a sensitive person and can be deeply affected by another person’s sorrow. Sometimes, a kind word, loving gesture, or profound insight can indeed ease the suffering of others. But soaking in their distress doesn’t help them at all.

This suffering might be precisely what they need to grow. I can’t know their karma, what they truly need, or how the situation will play out. It’s good to be kind, but to also trust and let go.

I love the way life keeps giving us perfect lessons, teaching us precisely what we need to know.  If we’re open, pay attention, and willing to change, the path keeps unfolding in the most provocative of ways.

What lessons, insights, perspectives, and new behaviors will you carry forward into this new year?

P. S. Have you signed up for my monthly note, Wild Arisings, yet?  You can learn more here.

I’m so glad you’re here! If you enjoy my articles, please subscribe for free updates by email. And, if you have a moment to share it could make a difference for someone else.  Thank you.  With love, Sandra


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  1. Hi Sandra,

    I like the phrase ‘life runs in cycles’…I have always felt so but how we handle those phases is all that determines our joy, happiness and peace. This article has inspired me to consolidate the lessons that life has taught me, though we keep taking stock of those lessons from time to time but I have never truly thought of consolidating them. So you have set another goal before me! Thanks, I like it.

    Sandra, this post is saying so much that after reading three times, my inner voice is saying… I have to read it again to digest all that you have loaded into it!
    Insights and behaviours cannot be decided beforehand; they just keep cropping up according to the time and occasion…that is my belief.

    Thank you, Sandra, for sharing such an intellectual view!

    • Hi Balroop,

      Those were a year of lessons for me so I can understand why you feel called to read it again!

      I wish you the very best with consolidating your life lessons. This helps me keep them at the front of my mind instead of distracted into the unnecessary.

  2. Hi Sandra; Thanks for sharing with us. I think I learned that i have the strength to try new things and stretch myself in faith. I finally recorded my first video a christmas message that was received pretty well. Just recorded a second one for a special offer on my site. am hoping to do some video interviews in person or via Skype. also hoping to travel and start a regular youtube show this year. and i was reminded that I still worry far too much about what other people think of me and my work. i almost pulled th first video down because of some negative comments from the first person who gave their opinion. I know it wasn’t perfect but a good first effort. My friends weight in and convinced me to leave it up. thanks again and have a blessed 2014, max

    • That’s fantastic, Maxwell! I’m so impressed that you jumped into making the videos. That’s something I’ve never tried. I think we all worry about what other people thing to some degree, but we can slowly learn to let it go. Sounds like you are growing in that area too. Good luck on your aspirations for 2014.

  3. Jean Sampson

    January is looking very challenging, but I am being honest at least, that I am just trying to remain upright and focus on one piece of life at a time If it is not done perfectly, well, that is how it is done 🙂 And I am sure that I will learn many lessons since I do see life (most of the time) as Earth School! And I really loved seeing the things that you have been learning!

    • Hi Jean,

      I can imagine how challenging January must feel given your recent bouts of vertigo. My heart and prayers are with you. I’m happy you are willing to be so accepting about just doing the best you can. It seems life lessons are always around the corner waiting for us! I hope Earth School has some goodness in store for you too. Good luck!

  4. Thank you for sharing so honestly and openly about your lessons from the year past. I think your point about getting real about time is a very common occurrence, before the end of the year I decided to take whatever goal/time estimate I decided on and double it – and it worked out right.
    2013 has definitely been a year of many lessons and changes for us, the biggest of which, for me, has been learning to let go and trust – much like what you talk about – going with the flow.
    Have an amazing 2014 ahead!

    • Li-ling,

      You’re so welcome! It such a smart idea to take our time estimates and double them. I’ll follow your lead.

      Learning to let go and trust, I feel, is a lifelong teaching. It seems like you’ve gotten a great handle on it in 2013 and I hope this wonderful perspective and capacity blossoms more and more for you.

      Thanks for your good wishes. Wishes you the best year ever in 2014 as well.

  5. This post is perfectly timed for me. After such a hectic Holiday season, I am reminding myself to once again trust the flow of life as it always comes around to bring the best things to me. Thank you!

    • You’re welcome, Kaylin. This is so true, the flow of life is beautiful. I’m sure we’ll meander in and out of trusting it, but each time grow the capacity stronger.

  6. Hi Sandra

    I love your blogs as they’re so thought provoking. Thank you for sharing.

    2013 was a most surprising year for me. I am now living in a new house in a new area, my career is taking me in a different direction and I learnt to Kayak and found a new passion in life! These things were not part of my plan for 2013 and yet they unfolded and I am so grateful they did. I think they happened because I let go of my expectations, fears and attachments and learnt to listen to my intuition, trusting that all will be well.

    I have some goals for 2014 but based on last year’s experiences I know that I need to think and analyse less and tune in to my intuition more so that I am living the life that’s right for me rather than the life I think I should be living……if that makes sense???

    Happy New Year to you Sandra

    With love

    Geraldine x

    • Hi Geraldine,

      Absolutely makes sense to me! I love the shifts you made in 2013 and the direction your moving in for 2014. I’m all for thinking less, connecting with our intuition, and allowing life to unfold. I need much more practice in that myself and so your experience is very inspiring to me. Thanks for sharing with us.

  7. Wow this is such an inspirational read. 🙂

  8. Awesome post, Sandra. I’ve been working on this one for quite a while: 5. Listen to Your Inner Voice, so it really called to me!

  9. Hi Dar,

    I’m happy the post resonated for you. I had another opportunity to work with Listen to Your Inner Voice this week! It takes time, doesn’t it?

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