Alzheimer's blog

Get a fresh start every day in lieu of making resolutions

By Angela Lunde January 10, 2012

After writing this blog for several years now, it has become a very personal and beautiful thing for me. Sometimes I write based on my experiences with caregivers or my training from a variety of colleagues and mentors, but I always write from my heart — often putting words to struggles and challenges not only because they may resonate with you, but because many times they live within me as well. Thank you for allowing this to be a place of freedom. Welcome back and warm greetings to each of you in this new year.

Last week a friend asked if I made any New Year's resolutions. The idea of a resolution, a goal or promise of action seems, at first, exhilarating and exciting — a new challenge with the possibility of a better me in the end, right? Yet, for 2012, I choose not to set any resolutions. And not because there isn't room for improvement, that's for certain.

As I see it, resolutions are simply thoughts, judgments or expectations that we place within ourselves. And caregivers seem to hold an abundance of expectations about what they should or shouldn't do, act, feel or be. Almost by nature, unrealistic expectations seem to invade the minds of caregivers. And when these expectations aren't met, the result is usually an assortment of negative feelings.

On the other hand, by not setting a resolution we can release expectations and dissolve the negative energy that often follows them. So, for this year, instead of making a resolution, I decided to infuse daily intention into my life. Maybe you'd like to consider this as well.

Intention has some of the qualities of an agenda or goal, but with a broader lens and deeper well. It's about living more by being than by doing. Living each day with intention is to depart from that mindless way of simply doing what we've always done. It's to have a clear vision or mindset toward a new and more positive way of being or feeling and then to think, act and (most importantly) to believe that this is how it will be, or even how it can be right now. Remember, your mind believes what you tell it.

What does this all mean in a practical sense? I might suggest that each day you find a peaceful place, maybe before anyone wakes up or while you're in the shower. Then ask yourself, "What is my intention today?" Perhaps it is to live with more patience and less anger. So for that day you choose to behave, move, and speak more softly, you're less reactive, you practice deep breathing.

Or, maybe your intention is to listen more to your inner voice and say no when you need to and yes when it feels right. Your intention might be a daily affirmation to yourself that you're a good person, doing the best you can no matter how others make you feel (you may need to say this to yourself repeatedly throughout the day). Your intention may be to simply find joy or gratitude in something that day.

More often than not, you'll find that your intentions really do shape the day. When we set an intention we have a way of channeling our mind and our thoughts away from the negative and into spaces where comfort, joy and purpose reside.

I love what Helene wrote in a recent comment. She said, "Goodbye to a hard, hard year ... but, 'it is what it is' ... and, welcome to new energy, new strength, new confidence and new mindsets to face all the next challenges. As I write these words ... I wonder if I believe them, but I will keep affirming them for comfort to myself and to others."

But like any new habit, living with intention will take a willingness and practice. The best part though — with each intention, you get a fresh start every day.

Jan. 10, 2012