10 things to leave behind in 2020 for a more mindful and peaceful existence

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Reading this list kind of feels like a attack on my character. I really hope most of you don’t feel the same, but given the commonalities between most of our beings and human tendencies you probably might too. The point of this blog definitely isn’t to shame or blame anyone or myself for “shortcomings”. The point is to draw light on some of the more unhelpful features and habits we tend to develop over time.

I’m a firm believer that awareness is the key to cultivating a happier, more intentional life. So today we’re talking about the 10 things I think we should challenge ourselves to leave behind in the dumpster fire year that was 2020 to cultivate more mindful living in 2021. Let’s get into it.

  1. Dwelling on the past

I can’t count how many times and how much time I’ve spent worrying about something I said last week or something I did or forgot to do. Even once I’ve remedied the misstep, I often find myself sitting and pondering the fact that it even happened. The past is a powerful tool when used in the right way. Recognizing where you could have done better can help you build a better future for yourself. However, that is not the same thing as spending your valuable time with your head in a cloud of past mistakes or unpleasant events. Maybe this is cheesy but before 2020 ends I will be curating a written list of these instances that I can’t get out of my head and burning them. I hope you do the same!

  1. People pleasing

This is a good one. People pleasing definitely has its time and place. Trying to get your dream job? Attempting to persuade a friend, family or colleague to do something? Basically anytime you are trying to get what you want in a situation can be a good time for people pleasing (manipulation 101 with Maddy, oops). Unhelpful and potentially harmful times for people pleasing? In situations where you are putting someone else’s needs before your own or compromising your sense of self and forfeiting your values, morals or even your respect.

  1. Comparison

Comparison is the killer of creativity. If you’re constantly comparing yourself to others or comparing your products or skills to experts or someone else, you risk demoralizing yourself and killing your motivation to create. Whatever you’re trying to create, your dream life, a new project at work, art, a fitness class, it will be unique and beautiful regardless of what is already out in the world. You are the only person on this planet with your environmental influences, socialization and precise history. That means you are the only person with your unique perspective. Don’t worry about what’s going on around you unless you’re letting it inspire you to create your own version.

  1. Scarcity mindset

Many of us have lived with a scarcity mindset. What’s the point in becoming a yoga teacher when there are already so many yoga teachers out there? What’s the point in trying this new thing when it will never make me any money or be the traditional monetary undershand of “productive”? These ideas come from a place of scarcity where you believe that there is not enough to go around or that for something to be valuable in society it has to be economically productive. With that logic, Master John never would have started a dojo because you can find a dojo in every neighbourhood of the city. With that logic, Douvris Martial Arts and this blog might never have existed. The countless Douvris dojo owners may never have owned a dojo. Don’t let a scarcity mindset stop you from doing what sets your soul on fire.

  1. Digital distractions

Cellphones, laptops, smart TVs, and more. We’re surrounded by distraction. These “tools” can be useful if they’re used for research, motivation and inspiration. However, they become detrimental when they’re used to numb ourselves to our current circumstance or place in life. While distracting can be a great form of self soothing, too much distraction can diminish our human potential. Super charge that potential by dropping the distractions and creating space and time for creation and growth. Take a walk outside, go to that online fitness class, take that skill course you’ve been wanting to take, start that YouTube channel. Whatever it is, let your human potential flourish by focusing instead of distracting.

  1. Overscheduling

If last year showed me anything, it’s that everything is temporary and almost everything can wait. We’ve had projects and many aspects of life put on hold since March of 2020. I don’t think putting off that zoom call with your high school friend you haven’t talked to in years will cause any major glitches in the matrix at this point. Give yourself time to breathe by giving yourself free time in your schedule. You’ll thank yourself later, especially if you find yourself in a time where you can’t put off any tasks.

  1. Guilt

If you’re like me, you feel guilty for just about everything. Sometimes you even feel guilty for simply taking up space in the universe. The best antidote for this is a consistent practice of self forgiveness and self love. Journal it out, meditate it out, maybe even karate class it out. Then let it go. You’re human and humans are put on this earth to make mistakes and to learn from them. Remember that human potential we talked about a couple points ago? Well guilt is another thing that can squash it even faster than digital distractions. Spend extra time on loving yourself, forgiving yourself and letting go this year.

  1. Mindless & unintentional living

Everything is temporary. Everything can change before you can count to 10. Make the most of the moments you’re given and the only moment that is for sure is the one you’re living in right now. Embrace it. Accept it. Use it to unlock your potential and make the most of it by living fully in the present moment. Forget the past and welcome the future with every step forward.

  1. Waiting for the perfect time

There will never be a perfect time if you keep telling yourself to wait for the perfect time. The perfect time is now. Now is the only moment that is a given. Whatever project you’re waiting to start or change you’re waiting to make, now is the perfect time to take steps towards it. That doesn’t mean you should quit your job right at this very second or spend all of your money on starting that company. It does mean that you can take the steps towards that goal that are within your means. This could mean planning, it could be networking and making contacts, it could mean researching.  Whatever you can do right now to take steps towards your goal, take them because if you keep waiting for the perfect time you will be waiting for a long time.

  1. Your comfort zone

Every year we tell ourselves (I mean, at least I do) that this is going to be the year. This is going to be the year that everything changes. I’m going to become a totally different person and create the life I’ve always wanted to live. However, year in and year out my life tended to look exactly the same. It wasn’t until I pushed the boundaries of what I thought I could or wanted to do and started to question what the influences around me told me I should be doing, that things started to change. Leaving your comfort zone behind could be as simple as questioning the societal norms that tell us the best way to be happy is to go to post secondary, get a nice and secure job, settle down and have a family. It could look like learning a new skill or talking to a stranger in public. The more you push the boundaries you’ve set up for yourself that more you’ll see change within them. Who was it that said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? This is exactly what we’re doing when we expect big change but aren’t willing to change our daily habits and routines. Step out of your comfort zone and start to witness those big changes.

Mindful living and routines are cultivated and grown over time. Just like our karate practice, it takes time to “perfect” or “master” a technique. Be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself and take baby steps towards finding a better version of you this year.

There are many things I’m sure we would all love to leave behind in 2020 that we have little control over, but this is my list of things I think we can definitely work on leaving behind in 2020 to lead more mindful and happier lives here in 2021.

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