It’s a new year! I love the fact that every year, we get the chance to start over. It’s never starting from scratch: we have experience, learning, to bring with us. Yet it also gives us an opportunity to leave some things behind us: thoughts, behaviours, feelings, that we no longer want to take with us.

We can stop for a moment and review the previous year, and what we have accumulated in our metaphorical backpack over that year. This is the stuff we carry around with us all the time and it can get weighty rather than useful! As in a literal cleaning out of a bag full of stuff we’ve accumulated, we discover that we’ve held on to some things we no longer want to carry around: another pile of out-of-date receipts; some old used tissues; a few dubious-looking sweets! In our ‘backpack’ these may be a pile of anxieties ad doubts that haven’t materialised into fact, some habits that no longer serve us well, some things we thought we liked but no longer enjoy.

These we can list, note, throw away. I mean that literally: write them down, and throw away the paper or burn it. Remember, rituals are very powerful for conveying to our minds what we want to say to ourselves.

There will also be some treasures in that backpack: some old, long-held-onto ones, some new ones collected last year. These might be memories, experiences we love still, habits and routines we love and enjoy. What are yours? What are the lovely things you have in there to carry with you, both from previous life experience and from last year? We often don’t truly recognise them until we stop and look in the backpack properly: that wonderful concert, that first walk in warm sand with bare feet, that moment with a child or friend that still makes you smile. Again, write them down, savour them, and save this list somewhere safe – and put them back in your backpack they will be useful in the year ahead.

Since we have taken some stuff out of our backpacks, we have some empty space in there. Now we all know that an empty space is always filled up again! This year, let’s be a bit more deliberate about how we fill it, and accumulate less of the old tissues and receipts! Stop and think about what you would like to put in your backpack this year: some more good experiences, a bigger collection of the useful habits and behaviours; an increase in joyous moments. And again, write down for yourself a list of the types of things you want to accumulate this year to fill your backpack with things that are even more helpful in enabling you to live your life easily and joyously. Keep this list safe, with your previous treasures list, and imagine yourself putting your wish list in your backpack front pocket – your ‘shopping list’ for the year.

It doesn’t take long to do this review and it’s fun to discover what’s in the bag, what you can throw away, and what you’d like in there. It’s a great way to start your year! Happy 2016 everyone!

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