10 Self-Expressions to Leave Behind in 2021 for a Fuller Life

While supreme organization (or Life Gardening, as we like to call it) requires singular vision and unity of purpose, it also requires disarming ourselves of bad habits (weeding, to continue the metaphor.)

Not all of our attributes and expressions contribute to our goals, and some even hinder them.

This, we know.

Some are specific to you and your life and goals. Some are fairly universal, as we all share “being a person” in common with each other. 

As the New Year approaches, we’re reminded that it’s an arbitrary delineation. When the clock strikes midnight, you and your life and the world won’t turn into a pumpkin. You’ll be the same.

But because we love boundaries and markers, it’s a time when we often decide how we want our next trip around the sun to look for us. Instead of (or in addition to) piling up our plates with hobbies, habits, and hairstyles that’ll reflect our next incarnation…

Let’s think of what we’d like to leave behind in order to create the conditions for the life we want to live.

Living without Water

We are all so hydrated all of the time, and it affects everything from the quality of our sleep, the luminosity of our skin, our cognitive function, our immunity, our digestion…

This year, make the choice to stop buying sodas and sugary drinks, opting for filtered water and seltzers instead. 

Fighting with Our Loved Ones

After a certain point, disagreements ought to stop at disagreements and never evolve into “fights”. A fight – complete with yelling, name-calling, and blame-throwing – is a screaming indicator of wounded inner children.

This year, should you feel an interaction rising to the pitch of a fight, stop – consider why. Deescalate. Take a break. Take a breath. Do you want to live in love? Say that right when you think it!

Ignoring our Financial Health

Monday-bank-account-check anxiety is real. Often, we’re so frightened of the choices we’re making in moments of self-indulgence that we don’t do the repair work afterwards, which harms us in the long run. In a capitalistic world, plenty of things are beyond our control. But that just means we’ve got to hold tighter to what’s in our control. 

This year, be committed to your financial needs. Set real goals for what you want, which starts with deciding what that is. Haven’t been on a vacation in years? Plagued by a water stain where the plumbing needs fixing? Take measured steps towards reaching that goal. (And stay tuned – we’re releasing a financial documentary later this year!)

Drinking to Excess

Drinking isn’t good for you. We absolutely know that. But unless you’ve got a debilitating problem, it’s hard to convince yourself to ditch booze entirely – are we not meant to release ever

This year, focus on being more discerning about:

  • The quality of the ingredients in your alcohol.
  • The frequency with which you’re drinking.
  • And the amount you drink when you do.

Relying on Car Transportation Alone

Buses, planes, and trains may not be a great idea during the pandemic – but the pandemic won’t be here forever, and in the meantime, most of us at least live within several miles of where we have to go. Is it possible for you or your family to downsize vehicles? Sell an extra? Use the ones you have less, and walk or bike more?

This year, let’s get back in touch with what our bodies are capable of, and spend less time letting machinery do our heavy-lifting.

Lamenting the Limitations of our Minds

There is just too much to be learned in this world, and we are so much more capable of learning as adults than we give ourselves credit for! Even if we’re learning to knit, or whittle, or memorize Tai Chi movements, we’re strengthening our neuroplasticity and making deposits in our bank of knowledge.

This year, let’s try to say “yes!” to every opportunity to garner new knowledge, whether we think it’s useless or not.

Thoughtlessly Consuming

It’s hard. Advertising is clever – that’s the whole point. And if you’d like to try first tracking how long you really end up owning the things you buy before throwing them away or donating, do that! But you can also begin from simply trusting that you likely don’t need and won’t use the things you want to be. This goes for media, too – we don’t need to consume all the time.

This year, let’s try the 90-day rule – if you want to buy something, wait 90 days. If you still want it, get it.

Avoiding our Dental Health

The mouth biome is the gateway to the microbiome. And, partially because of ignorance and partially because dental insurance can be tough to come by, we tend to neglect our mouths. Our gums, specifically. The food that gets trapped under our gums can feed unhealthy bacteria and lead to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.

This year, let’s prioritize brushing and flossing twice a day, and oil-pulling with coconut oil for at least twenty minutes as often as we can.

Waiting for Meat to Call it a “Meal”

It’s a particularly American or Western European behavior – to include meat with every meal. A meal can feel empty or lacking without it. But even if you only start with “meatless mondays”, you may find that there are myriad plant-based culinary traditions that provide as much protein as you need while filling you up with more nutrients than when your meal is mostly plants.

This year, let’s try eating some of our meals without meat, and with extra vegetables.

Guessing About our Gut Health

We know how vital it is – that missing organ in our digestive tracts. And we have implemented more practices to keep it healthy than we likely did in our earlier years. But it can be incredibly helpful to know exactly what the state of your inflammation, microbial diversity, and food sensitivities are – and absolutely life-changing.

This year, let’s commit to seeing an integrative health specialist or taking an at-home microbiome test for more clarity.

New year, new you, right?

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Dr. Pedram Shojai

NY Times Best Selling author and film maker. Taoist Abbot and Qigong master. Husband and dad. I’m here to help you find your way and be healthy and happy. I don’t want to be your guru…just someone who’ll help point the way. If you’re looking for a real person who’s done the work, I’m your guy. I can light the path and walk along it with you but can’t walk for you.