Kindness. Practice.

I actually had a bit of a tough time coming up with this.  In fact, this is the second time I’ve written this blog post.  I originally wrote the post a week or so ago and then I was talking to my friend, Tammy of My Farmtastic Life, about themes for 2018 and she told me her theme and I decided I needed to revisit.

And by “revisit,” I decided to pretty much steal her idea.

First, I wanted a theme that had to do with benevolence and kindness because I want to focus on not being so critical of people and having authentic, rich connections with the people in my life. I also want to stop being so hard on myself for not meeting some impossible/ill-defined standard of perfection. I want to make more room in my life to appreciate different approaches to life and decisions — not merely passively “letting” those things happen, but more actively appreciating why those approaches work well for others even if they may not work well for me.  So, that’s where the “kindness” part comes from.

I also wanted something to do with mindfulness because I’ve seen good progress in terms of introspection and personal understanding thanks to meditation and working to be more mindful in general.

Originally, I’d had “Note” as the second word in my theme, but I changed it as I will explain in a moment.

Noting is a mindfulness technique that I’ve learned via the Headspace app. When you’re meditating — or trying to meditate — your mind will wander. And you’re supposed to note the wandering. Like, “Oh, I am no longer focused on my breath now.”  You can take it a step further and identify whatever the thinking/feeling is that is causing your mind to wander and identifying whether it is positive or negative.  Like “Oh, my mind wandered and I was feeling angry about what happened in traffic earlier.” Or “My mind wandered because I was thinking about that story idea I had in the shower this morning. That’s fun, but I need to get back to focusing on my breath.”   As one works on being more mindful, you take this technique of noting to your everyday life.  You note your emotional experiences. You note your physical states and changes.  You can note pretty much anything, really. It kind kind of depends on what you’re working on.  The goal is to develop deeper, broader self-awareness.  So, that’s where “noting” comes from.

But after talking to Tammy and thinking about it while I was up with the baby last night, I decided that “Practice” is a better theme.

First of all, the connection to meditation and mindfullness is much more clear and broadly applicable.  But I also like that it can be said to apply to a lot of other things in the sense that we’re all on a journey of improvement.  So, when I’m writing, I am practicing writing and the goal is to make the next writing task better than the last.  When I’m exercising, I’m building toward the next level of fitness.  When I’m trying a new sales pitch at work, I’m refining my technique to be more effective.  Each effort is just the stepping stone to the next level and clearly understood not to be the pinnacle, the end, perfection.

Now, I prefer to choose themes along a single idea, but “Kindness” is very important to me right now.  So, I’m not killing that.  I also don’t want to say “Practice Kindness” because that sounds like a mandate of a single idea without encompassing the other ideas there.  So that’s why I’m separating the two words with a period and putting them in that order.

2018 will be the year of kindness… the year of practice… the year of Kindness Practice.

Kindness. Practice.