Happy New Year! I love the opportunity to begin again, whether it be in the midst of my meditation practice or at the start of a fresh year.
We ended 2023 with the theme of HAPPINESS and we decided to continue the momentum and begin 2024 with HAPPINESS!
Last year was a time of profound personal growth amidst struggle and loss for myself and many others. I am reminded through my practice of what is truly important to me in this life – family, friends, laughter, relaxation, passion, creativity and community. When times are hard, I lean heavily into these areas of my life because I have come to understand the source of my own happiness many times now.
At the end of the day, what matters most to me is not aiming for perfection or having things go as planned. In fact, it is the opposite. It is vulnerability, imperfection and surprise. Thank goodness things don’t always work out according to my expectations! My life is so much more interesting and fun when I allow myself to be open to another path. Happiness for me is the limitlessness of life.
I wasn’t always this way. I used to grasp on tightly to my ideals and I wasted a lot of time (and damaged some relationships) by forcing things and reaching for what I believed was perfection. I created unnecessary stress for myself and those around me. Through a series of life lessons, healthy habits, and deep relationships, my perspective has changed.
My meditation practice has helped to regulate my nervous system and opened my eyes to the possibility that I might not always know the best path. Sometimes letting go and having faith is where it’s at. The path is happiness. It doesn’t really matter what the end result is. I just don’t worry about it anymore. I am here now.
As we move forward into 2024, I invite you to ponder what happiness means to you – the source/s of your happiness, how you make decisions, and how you spend your time.
Here are a few tips for consideration:
Set time aside for gratitude. A gratitude journal is a lovely practice. It is also quite beautiful to begin and end the day with a small list of things you are grateful for. When we begin to open up to gratitude, it becomes easier to feel connected to where we are and cultivate happiness.
Nurture your relationships, including the one with yourself. Be discerning with who you spend time with. Seek out people who have similar values, including the value of happiness! Commit to taking time to nurture and care for those people that are important to you. Practice delighting in the good news of others and offer sincere, heartfelt compliments in celebration of the beauty of those around you.
Meditate. Even just 5 minutes of meditation each day has enormous benefits. We ingest so much in our daily lives. Allow yourself to create space, become still and silent, and digest all the input and stimulus you have taken in. Perhaps keep a small journal to track how you feel before and after your practice.
Take care of your health – mind, body and spirit. Consider adding a movement practice to your routine if you don’t already have one. Regular exercise is not just good for the body but also uplifting for your mental well-being. Do your best to get a good night’s sleep. Try waking and going to bed at roughly the same times every day to help your body regulate.
Savor the small, everyday moments. So much of life is in the seemingly mundane day-to-day activities, such as doing the dishes and laundry, preparing food, getting ready for the day. How might you bring more conscious joy to those moments? Focusing on the sensory experiences (the temperature of the water, the softness of the clothes or the smell of food) is one path to being present and experiencing happiness in the moment.
I am so delighted to move into another year with you all.
Pause Community Manager
Nicole Rush is Pause's Community Manager and an Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor. Meditation is like digestion for the mind, guiding us to a place where we are able to let go of what no longer serves us, we can recognize the true self within, always there to guide us.
Our days are filled with activities that sometimes feel less than extraordinary, such as cooking dinner, doing the laundry or walking the dog. But, if we pay attention, we will recognize the richness and abundance in the seemingly mundane. We don’t have to wait for a special day to find joy and happiness — it’s available now.
In 2018, Nicole traveled to the mountains of Kathmandu to complete her yoga and meditation teacher training. She also holds a Yoga Nidra certification and a Bachelor of Fine Art from Marylhurst University. Outside of wellness practices, Nicole finds joy in poetry, knitting, long walks, French films and her ever-vibrant family.