I’m delighted to share a guest post today from Courtney Carver, the author of the just published Soulful Simplicity, How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More.
It’s that time of year when we are supposed to resolve to be better, thinner, more productive and other things that we seem to re-resolve every year. What if this year were different? What if this year we rejected all of the ways the outside world tells us that we are supposed to be and instead, decide for ourselves?
This year, make a resolution to listen to your heart.
When changes we want to make come from the inside instead of the outside, it’s much more likely that they will stick. Let’s say your resolution is to simplify your life or lose weight. This probably isn’t the first time you’ve tried to make a permanent change in these areas. I’m only guessing as I know I struggled with both for decades.
So why do we have to keep starting over?
Why do we take one step forward and two steps back? Some of it is part of the learning process, and part of leaning into change, but on a bigger scale, if you don’t know why you want to change, or if your reasons for change don’t resonate with your heart, you’ll repeat the change over and over again without sustainable results.
I know this, because I’ve done it. I spent years attempting to make healthy lifestyle changes. I wanted to eat less, exercise more, spend less, and save more, but my reasons were all superficial and my heart said, “I don’t believe you.”
After being diagnosed with MS in 2006 after months of debilitating vertigo and fatigue, and learning how stress impacts the disease, and all disease, my heart was paying attention. I decided to eliminate as much stress as possible from my life to rescue myself from a downward slide and change the course of my disease. As I mentioned, I had tried to make healthy lifestyle changes over the years, tried hundreds of times, but without this compelling reason to change, I never did.
If your heart isn’t in the game, permanent change doesn’t stand a chance. Really understand your motivation to change. What’s pulling on your heart? For instance, quitting sugar to lose ten pounds to fit into your high school jeans for a reunion may get your ego’s attention, but it might not really speak to your heart, but if you think quitting sugar will help you sleep better, prevent cancer, and live longer … now it’s a matter of the heart.
I know what’s best for me
There have been many times in my life when I trusted other people to know what’s best for me. I’ve trusted doctors, teachers, coaches, friends, authors and bloggers. At some point, if what they thought was best for me wasn’t, I’d be disappointed. And then I’d look for someone else to know what was best for me.
I’ve made a bunch of choices that I knew were best for me over the past ten years even when others thought differently. Trusting my heart to know what’s best allowed me to stop proving myself, justifying my action, or putting responsibility for living my life in the best possible way on other people. It was never up to them.
I don’t know what’s best for you.
It has taken a dedicated daily practice to trust my voice — the voice that knows what’s best for me. I made space and time to connect with my heart and hear what’s best by simplifying my life. My daily practice is some combination of writing, meditating, walking or stretching and then sitting quietly with my hands on my heart. Learning to trust and act on what I’m hearing involves experimenting, researching, asking questions, screwing up, starting over, laughing, and then doing it all over again. Sometimes I hear the voice, and know what’s best but try to ignore it and do something else. That never works. Not once. It’s never worked for me to ignore what I know is true for me..
I find great inspiration and guidance from hearing other people’s stories, talking to friends, and listening to advice, but when I want to know what’s best for me, I put my hands on my heart and turn to the person who knows me best. So that brings me back to the fact that I don’t know what’s best for you.
How will you know what’s best for you?
Use the information you find on the internet, in books and courses, at conferences, and anywhere else as pieces of the puzzle, but not as the end all be all. It’s not. No one knows what’s best for you but you.
If you want to know what’s best for you, experiment, be curious, listen to your heart and remember you already know you better than anyone else. Make a resolution to listen to your heart. Do whatever it takes to create an environment where you have a little time each day to sit quietly to listen to your heart and trust the answers.
About Courtney Carver
Courtney Carver changed her life by simplifying it after a devastating diagnosis in 2006. She’s the founder of bemorewithless.com and minimalist fashion challenge Project 333.
Learn more from her new book Soulful Simplicity [affiliate link] just published by Penguin Random House. Carver shows us the power of simplicity to improve our health, build more meaningful relationships, and relieve stress in our professional and personal lives.