2021 is finally here. And while we may greet its arrival with equal parts hope and apprehension, it represents a clean slate to start anew. Despite the uncertainty of what lies ahead, the coming year offers us an incredible opportunity to turn inward and reset our attitude, change our perspective, and recalibrate our energy.
According to Chinese medicine, Qi is the vital energy of life. It is also our greatest natural resource. When we learn to cultivate and express this vital energy in a positive, uplifting way, the result is improved health, greater creativity, enhanced vitality, and an enriched life. Importantly, what the new year brings to each of us will depend a great deal on what we bring to the new year.
A new year can only be new if we make new choices.
Make 2021 the year you decide to release what no longer serves you and cultivate the energy you need for a healthy, fulfilling life. Enter this new year with a mindset and commitment to let go of what was, accept and be grateful for what is, and have faith in what will be. As Aristotle said: the energy of the mind is the essence of life.
When things change inside you, things change around you.
Quantum physics has proven that mass and energy are interchangeable – that mass is merely a manifestation of energy. In fact, everything is energy, and everything is connected to everything else. Everything comes from the same source and returns to it. Everything is one. While this energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can be transformed (the First Law of Thermodynamics) with our thoughts, choices and actions. When applied to the human body, every atom, molecule, cell, tissue and organ system is composed of energy, creating what is known as the human energy field. Likewise, all of our thoughts, emotions, beliefs and attitudes are composed of energy. This means that every cell within our body knows what we are thinking and feeling – and reacts accordingly – often with dis-ease, chronic pain and illness when our energy is negative or stagnant. Alternately, a strong body, generous spirit, and open mind all create the healthy energy we need to live a vibrant, robust life. Ultimately, everything we think, feel and do influences everything we are and may become, as well as everyone else on this planet.
The body stores old patterns of physical tension, stress and trauma. Additionally, our tissues store unresolved emotions, thoughts, beliefs and fears. The energy generated during any interaction, experience or relationship not only impacts us immediately, but can linger within us long after the event or feeling that initially generated it has passed. These suppressed emotions don’t just disappear – they are “stored” and manifest somewhere else in the body. Indeed, physical symptoms such as migraines, digestive issues and sleeplessness represent the body’s attempt to warn us about this destructive energy and compel us to transform it. This is why it is so crucial to find healthy ways to release stress, negative emotions, and trauma.
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
- Lao Tzu
Consciously changing our mindset and disrupting old behavior patterns shifts our awareness, creating space and opportunity for new ideas and personal growth. It forces us to release limiting beliefs and experiment with new ways of thinking and being. This is often the “jolt” we need to help release old, stagnant energy and attract new, positive energy. Of course, there will always be people and circumstances that trigger our anger, sadness and resentment. But when we feed these destructive emotions with our internal energy – allowing them to repeat on a “loop” in our minds and hearts – they take root within us and poison our spirit. Instead, choose to let go of negative attitudes and allow each new day to bring new energy. Making even small changes to our mindset, perspective and environment can dramatically transform our life, health and energy.
Ultimately, all of the most transformational changes in my own life can be traced back to a series of mindset shifts such as positive thinking, forgiveness, compassion, trusting in the universe, listening to my intuition, and taking personal responsibility for everything that manifests in my life. A commitment to prioritize and reclaim our vital energy will help break the bonds of false beliefs, restrictive habits, and old conditioning that can block energy and leave us feeling “stuck.”
Depending on where you're experiencing negative or stagnant energy in your life – at home, your career, or in a relationship; in your physical body or spiritual development – consider adopting some of the suggestions below to break free of old patterns that no longer serve you and cultivate new, vibrant energy that reveals your true, best self.
Trust the magic of new beginnings. Don’t be afraid to try new things or start over.
Breathe through your nose. Breathing through the nose increases your intake of nitric oxide, which allows your blood vessels to relax and widen, thereby opening up your arteries. This decreases your blood pressure, allowing better blood flow to your heart and other important organs.
Declutter your home and work space. Clutter represents postponed decisions that manifest as untidy mess. Feng shui – the ancient Chinese art of placement – warns that clutter blocks the flow of energy through a structure/space. Likewise, Chinese medicine warns that blocked energy leads to emotional stagnation and physical pain.
Stop prioritizing people who treat you as an afterthought. If you’re constantly wondering where you stand with someone, perhaps it’s time to consider walking away. No one is “too busy” for you, it’s a matter of priorities. Stop forcing relationships and choose to make yourself a priority.
Don’t waste emotional energy on things that don’t matter. And honestly, most things don’t matter nearly as much as we allow them to. Don’t let little things bother you enough to ruin your mood.
Sit with pain and uncertainty. There is a lesson there, don’t ignore it or rush it.
Stop relying on external validation to elevate yourself. Know that you are enough and your self- worth does not depend on the approval or opinions of others.
Change your environment. If the energy of a past relationship still lingers in your home, causing you grief and sadness, change things up. Paint the walls. Buy yourself fresh flowers. Play new music. If work leaves you feeling drained at the end of every day, change your commute or listen to an inspiring audio book or pod cast.
Get moving. When you’re feeling low on energy, give your body fuel. Do pushups, jumping jacks, or some other heart-pumping exercise until you’re tired. More blood will circulate to all of your cells, and more energy along with it. Moving your body moves your energy, and energy that flows freely is healthy energy.
Breathe deeply. Next time you’re feeling anxious, stop and take several deep breaths. Inhaling brings in fresh energy while exhaling expels stagnant energy. This kind of deep and focused breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “rest and digest” physiological response that combats stress.
Laugh at yourself. Anything that makes you feel happy lightens your energy and your mood, reminding us not to take life so seriously. Laughing also reduces your stress hormone levels, increases your heart rate, and releases muscle tension, all of which get your energy flowing.
Help others. Positivity follows purpose. Being kind and helpful toward others releases the pure, healthy energy from your heart chakra, making the energy of your entire body bright and strong.
Stop being late to everything.
Be grateful for everything. When we make life all about us, it’s easy to believe we deserve what we have and we’re entitled to more of it. When we choose to be grateful and appreciate everything in our lives, we shift our attitude from one of lack and frustration to one of appreciation. We also begin to receive more of what we are grateful for because we open ourselves up to the idea of receiving instead of taking.
Guard against negative energy. Negativity goes hand in hand with selfishness. People that live only for themselves rarely have a higher purpose in their lives. To get rid of negative energy, look outside yourself and begin to help others.
Surround yourself with positive people. We become like the people we surround ourselves with. If our friend group is full of negative energy vampires and drama queens, we will emulate that behavior and become like them. It is difficult to become more positive when the people around us don’t support or demonstrate positive behavior. Distancing yourself from the negative people in your life is a huge step to cultivating positive energy.
Take responsibility. We are each responsible for our own thoughts and actions. People that consistently believe things happen to them – blaming circumstances or other people for their own choices – handicap themselves with a victim mentality. Taking full responsibility for your life, your thoughts, and your actions is one of the biggest steps in creating vibrant energy and a more positive life. When we begin to really internalize this, we discover that no one can make us feel or do anything. We choose our emotional and behavioral response to people and circumstances. And we can choose to be positive.
Add variety to your life. There is more than one way to live well. A life of psychological richness is full of diverse experiences, relationships and discovery – and offer challenges that stimulate the mind. Seek out new experiences that shift your perspective and challenge your pre-existing beliefs.
Live like an extrovert. Research shows that extroverts – people who exhibit and enjoy highly social behavior – experience increased happiness. This doesn't mean the benefits of extroversion are off-limits for introverts. Studies show that just acting like an extrovert for a week correlates with increased well-being.
Say yes. Take a chance. Be open to new possibilities. Do something that scares you. Embrace failing at something new.
Recognize joy. Be conscious of the people and moments that bring you happiness and spend more time doing things you enjoy with people you love.
Get up an hour early. Use the extra time to work on your goals – writing your first book, meditating, starting your own business – before the rest of the world wakes up and demands your attention.
Befriend a Tasmanian Devil. Find someone who brings spontaneity and adventure into your life.
Go to bed an hour earlier. Consistent, high quality sleep is essential to a healthy body, a clear mind, and abundant energy since this is the time when the body renews itself and the brain organizes the day’s events.
Simplify your day. Assess your routine and look for where you have energy “leaks” or drains. Commit to cutting back on one activity every week and use that extra time to read an inspiring book or walk in nature to renew your spirit.
See the good. As you go through your day, choose to see the good around you. Even when it’s hard, this positive change in perspective can help you find the good in others, and yourself.
Forgive. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. And grudges are a heavy burden to carry around. Forgiveness doesn’t negate what happened, but it does allow you to move on from your anger.
Start a new morning routine. Drink warm water with lemon and ginger every day when you first wake up. It has energizing health and immunity benefits and tastes delicious.
Save $5 every day. Skip the Starbucks and dedicate the money you save to take a fabulous trip or give a generous donation to a charity to want to support.
Find your ikigai. Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means “reason for being.” It is found at the center where your passion and talents intersect with what the world needs and is willing to pay for.