For many, 2020 was a difficult year. For certainties ceased to exist. And hugs are no longer allowed. Even a regular shopping trip is no longer possible. Working from home. Less contact with your friends, family and colleagues. The corona crisis affects us all. Unfortunately, this crisis is not over yet. Do you want to stay at the helm of your life, even in times of crisis? Then make the year 2021 the year of connection.
We want to inspire you to make the year 2021 a year of connection. Despite the corona crisis. If you do that you will gain personal power. And in doing so, you do yourself and those around you a great service. Isn’t that what we are all looking for? Connection and meaning in difficult times? We give you five tips on how to make 2021 the year of connection.
Connecting through gratitude
We live on a miraculous planet that hurtles through space at over 1,000 miles per hour. And we inhabit this planet along with countless other living creatures, birds, trees, oceans. Most of us have food to eat and a roof over our heads.
Instead of exhausting your mind with worries, we invite you to reflect with regularity on the things you are grateful for. These can be small things. Like a cup of coffee, the smile of a child, a bird in the sky. In this way you take your mind out of automatic “brooding mode”
Scientific research has shown that gratitude changes the neural connections in your brain. These new connections, in turn, cause your brain to focus more effectively on what is going well in your life. When you are regularly grateful, you train your brain to function more optimistically and creatively.
By regularly focusing on gratitude, you’ll make the year 2021 the year of connection.
Connection through paying attention to the other
It is only human that we are often preoccupied with what we want, need, what our needs are. But in the year 2021 you can also consciously practice asking what you can do for the other. That other person can be your husband or wife, your child, a colleague, co-worker, a friend, a person in need. Or your boss. What does the other person need? What could you do to connect more with the other person?
In this way you give attention without wanting anything in return. Giving attention just because you want to give something to the other person can be very joyful. Not only does it make the other person happier. Your sense of well-being and satisfaction grows as well. This makes you feel better about yourself. The result is that you become more resilient and energetic and can better cope with crises such as the corona crisis.
As a result of the lock down, you can’t meet with many people at once, no more parties. That is a pity. But it is also an opportunity to give attention to others in small company. This attention can be more intimate and rich than you thought possible.
Even a Skype or Zoom call can become a form of connection if you give your full attention to the conversation and are totally present.
By paying attention to another, you will make the year 2021 the year of connection.
Connection through focusing on yourself
Actually, you can only be connected to another when you are well connected to yourself. You can get in touch with yourself in a few minutes. For example, by sitting down for a few minutes somewhere where you cannot be disturbed. If this is difficult in your home situation, the toilet can be a very suitable place.
I invite you to sit, close your eyes and observe your breathing. Where in your body do you feel it? Is it long or short? High or low? You don’t have to change it, just observe it. After a few breaths, you can turn your attention to your body if you want. What do you feel in your body? Maybe you feel the chair or toilet seat you are sitting on. Your feet on the ground. Or other sensations.
In this way you have given yourself some time to reconnect with yourself. After you move on again you will find that you can now also connect better with your work and your surroundings.
By giving yourself regular attention, you will make 2021 the year of connection.
Connection through the Power of Not Knowing
At school and at work, we are valued if we know a lot. Of course, knowledge has great value. But at the same time it is a pitfall. Often we get too carried away by our opinions, judgments, prejudices. We take our opinions, judgments etc for the truth.
That can make us rigid. Because our opinions are just thoughts. They are not truth. Our opinions are nothing more than conditioned thought patterns. Often learned by parents, environment, school. Usually we do not examine our opinions and judgments anymore. In doing so, we run the risk of losing our freshness and curiosity.
The famous Zen master Suzuki once said, “if your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, is open to anything. For the beginner there are many possibilities, but for the expert there are few”.
So we can choose to distance ourselves a little more from all our opinions and judgments. So that we can be more conscious in life instead of slavishly following our conditioned patterns.
How? Suppose you have a colleague you dislike a bit. You might choose to look at this colleague with completely different eyes. As if you had never encountered him or her before. What does his or her face look like? How does her voice sound? Can you listen to what he or she says without immediately forming an opinion?
In this way you can reconnect with the reality of the moment. Your attention is at the helm instead of your conditioned reflexes. This gives you power. And the ability to see that that irritating colleague actually has some pretty interesting traits.
By opening up to Not Knowing you are ensuring that you connect with reality in a new way in 2021.
Connecting with your traveler’s mind
Your traveler’s mind is your ultimate friend in connecting. This traveler’s mind represents your “beginner’s mind.” The mindset that is awake, the senses sharp. You hear, see, feel, work and live with attention. As if you are on a journey and seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling everything for the first time. You can practice this mindset.
With just a few minutes of practice each day, you train your brain to approach your everyday life with a curious and inquisitive mindset. This mindset stimulates your well-being and creativity.
How can you practice this? I invite you to really listen every day once in a while to all the sounds around you. You stop for a moment with what you are doing and prick up your ears. Listen to the sounds near and far. The hard and soft, beautiful and ugly sounds. You don’t have to do anything. Just listen.
Or take a walk in the woods or a park near you. Look intently at the trees, the leaves, the colors around you. In this way you take distance from your thoughts and connect with the nature around you.
Your traveler’s mind is a good ally if you want to make 2021 a year of connection.
We wish everyone a connected life
We sincerely wish everyone a life of connection. Make 2021 the year of connection! Meaningful connection gives depth and fulfillment to our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Your intention to connect can be more powerful than the corona crisis or any crisis for that matter!