January has got to be the silliest month. Really, Universe, how on earth do you come up with this crap?! A ridiculous amount of pressure appears from nowhere and our collective consciousness decides it's time to reassess, achieve, produce, be better, be thinner, be healthier, be... whatever comparative adjective you are meant to be (except taller, that would just be weird and probably impossible). January is a time to sort out your quite obviously miserable existence, and stop being so rubbish. Think about all the things you do wrong, and drastically change all of your old patterns at once, because it's a new year. But wait, there's more! It's also time to throw yourself into all of those new projects you've been day-dreaming about while you were happily stuffing your face with Christmas food, and vegging out on the sofa. You've spent a month or so knowing that your future-self will pick up the pieces and rock it. Now the time has arrived. January You will sort it out. January You won't procrastinate. January You is frickin awesome.
Hmmm. I don't know about the rest of the January Yous out there but, surprise surprise, I well and truly ballsed that one up! January Me was awful. Absolute rubbish. The beautiful intentions turned quite quickly into monumental failures (in my mind) that left me feeling super down and stunned at my own inadequacy. It's taken me the full month of wallowing and feeling disappointed with myself to realise what a plonker I'm being. Like so many people, I do the same every year and I think I may even do a little version of it every Monday.
A new moon feels magical and full of hope, but it is guaranteed to come along with every cycle. Monday is universally hated and, at the same time, it holds so much potential and importance to us, but it's merely another day of the week. January may well represent a new year, a fresh start and a chance for a new chapter, but it really is just another month. Right now is right now. It is all just now. Simple really. If we can get our heads around that idea, then maybe we can quit with all the pressure to be something better, and enjoy these moments like any other 'now'.
Striving for improvement is not something I have a problem with. Goals and dreams are fab. It's the fact that the complete focus on the outcome, progress and productivity, that something like society's January brings up, can lead to a paralysing feeling when we 'fail'. When we have unrealistic expectations, and we do not reach the objective we are striving for, we feel crushed. If we manage to achieve what we have set our sights on, then we feel fantastic, but if we fall short we feel anywhere between 'slightly bummed out' to 'completely gutted'.
I have been learning how to act and work with love, awareness and non-attachment. It is the basis of practising Karma Yoga; you try to detach from the fruits of your actions, and it's a beautiful way of living. I forgot this during the past month. I want to remind myself of this and put it out there, into the world, for others who could be similarly inspired by these ideas. It's something that I got my head around recently and something that I forgot to focus on this month, and it's pretty simple...
In every action, act out of love and awareness.
No expectations. No fear.
Trust that life will happen through you and love the now.
Love what you are doing, be aware, but don't get attached to the outcome.
If you are not attached to the end result then, when you succeed you can love it, but try not celebrate it in such an attached way.
In turn, that will mean that if you 'fail' you will not be attached to the failure, and it can not carry the same weight it otherwise would.
...what a lovely way of living. I hope it's something I can always come back to when I lose my way and spiral into that familiar feeling of not being good enough, the pressure to do or be more.
This is not just a way to survive January blues. It seems to me that it is a different way to approach every day, work, projects, relationships, self - the list is endless. For now, this year's January is almost over, but there are plenty of Mondays coming up so, Universe, if you can remind me of this when I'm getting grumpy and impatient again I'd be grateful.
P.S. A little poem of my brother's that I illustrated a while ago