So, what's the word?
Before you bristle, consider this: research shows that mindfulness, including the choice of a personal mantra, can decrease anxiety and increase self-esteem, emotional intelligence, and feelings of overall well-being.
It's a fun and meaningful way to create a connection with your kids, while teaching them a tool to help boost their happiness and shape their year.
My word for 2018 is "Open."
My teenage son chose "Confident."
More on those later.
Rather than a resolution that focuses on a particular behavior or achievement, a mantra focuses on a particular set of feelings you want to cultivate. Your mantra is a one-word intention; a reminder to show up in the world in a way that helps bring about those feelings.
Resolutions are about doing. Mantras are about being. And a major focus of mindfulness is the shift from doing to being.
So, let's get started picking your personal word.
Ask yourself this question.
What do you want to feel more of in the coming year? Answer this from both a personal and professional perspective.
Notice I didn't ask what you want to do more of. What do you want to feel more of, both personally and professionally?
Strength? Abundance? Safety? Fearlessness?
You can also ask the question in reverse. What do you want to feel less of? Resistance? Struggle? Perfectionism? Sluggishness? Your word should be the opposite of this.
Here's how I uncovered my word, "Open:"
2017 was the year I decided to formally pursue my lifelong passion for writing children's books. I wrote a manuscript, landed an agent, and now it's fingers crossed for a publishing deal. I'm opening a new chapter; opening to new opportunities.
I'm also trying to reduce clutter in my home. I'd like to cultivate more open space.
On the health front, I've been struggling with a month-long asthma flare-up that has left my lungs feeling constricted. "Open" to me feels like more room to breathe.
So ask yourself which word embodies how you want to feel in the coming year. On all levels.
Once you have an idea, try it on for size. See if you stand differently when you say the word. When I say "open," it's a reminder for my heart to create space and my shoulders to roll back.
Your word should expand you.
Go deeper than happy.
When I asked my son what he wanted to feel more of in the coming year, he said: "Happy." It's a common answer. Try to get more specific.
I gave him an algebraic equation. "If feeling more x would make you happier," I asked him, "what is 'x'?"
"Organized," he said. "Feeling more organized would make me happier."
One more layer. "Why would feeling organized make you happier?" I asked.
"I guess it would make me feel more on top of things, more confident," he answered. Bam. Confident. I could tell when he said it. He confirmed that word felt right to him.
So keep peeling away the layers until you find the word that resonates with you. It should be a word that makes you smile when you think about bringing more of it into your life.
If it makes you feel any pressure, or any constriction, pick a different one.
Your word is your intention, and intentions are a powerful way to point your energy in a particular direction.
Write your word on a sticky note and put it wherever you could use some inspiration. Say it while you're driving. Share it with your friends and your kids, and ask how you can support them in living out their words.
And remember, no pressure. You can change your word whenever you feel like this one no longer fits.
Just like each new year, each new word is another chance to begin again.