I like to give every year of my life a theme. And for me, 2015 was the Year of Desire.
It was a year of noticing what I was really hungry for — physically, mentally, emotionally, socially — and of finding value and pleasure (instead of anxiety or angst) in those appetites.
It was a year in which I got clear that there’s a real intelligence in the energy that draws me to whatever it is that has grabbed my interest and attention.
For most of my life, I mistrusted that energy. I feared that heeding my desires would pull me off track, distancing me from my goals, and making me (or revealing me as) weaker than I wanted to be.
“Oh, sure,” I’d think, “stopping to smell the flowers [or have this chat, or read this poem, or notice how I am feeling] is all well and good — but I’ve got important things to do!”
For a long time, I ran myself ragged getting all those important things done. Some of those things were rewarding. But many came at the expense of more valuable considerations, including my sense of peace, my sense of connection, my true sense of purpose, and my most honest creative expression.
What I’ve been noticing is that the things I’m initially tempted to deny myself are very often the things that make my life not just good, or even great, but truly lush, magic, and “me.”
A few years back, thanks in part to advice from my friend Cindy Joseph and some other wise women, I decided to start trusting my own instincts a bit more. I began assuming that the people, experiences, and things I am attracted to have some special, intrinsic value — whether or not I can fully grasp it at the time.
More than a decade ago, I reshaped my eating to reflect my real appetites. I chose to embrace a higher-fat, nutrient-dense, whole-food diet (much like the one that Harvard’s Dr. David Ludwig advocates for in “Hungry No More” and that we helped him test with 100 of our readers last year), rather than the low-fat, low-calorie, low-pleasure diet that was mass-advocated at the time.
That change radically improved both my health and happiness.
Now that I’ve put not just my body but my heart and mind on that same sort of feel-good regimen, I find a similar transformation taking place: Everything works better, feels better. My daily actions produce more pleasure, more value, and more fun.
And what about 2016? I feel like it will be the Year of the Ask. Not in a greedy “gimme” way, but in an open, honest, thoughtful way, a way that creates clarity, ease, and abundance — for me and everybody around me.
In her new book, The Art of Asking, musician and performance artist Amanda Palmer (whose TED talk has had nearly 8 million views) writes: “Asking is, at its core, a collaboration. . . . Those who can ask without shame are viewing themselves in collaboration with — rather than in competition with — the world.”
That’s what this issue of Experience Life is all about: Noticing and heeding your appetites for joy, and trusting they are in cahoots with some greater good.
Starting with Kathryn Budig’s cover interview, and winding up with “Build Better Habits,” we’ve rounded up all sorts of wisdom designed to help you get more of what you want out of life, and to give more of what you’re here to share.
Why not pick a theme for yourself for 2016? Then start noticing all the ways it begins to show up in your daily life: as awareness, as support, as serendipity.
And, hey, since 2016 is my Year of the Ask, I will ask: Will you please tell me what theme you come up with? Connect with me via the social channels below. Tell me what you want to learn, be, do, change, and experience this year. In exchange, all of us here at Experience Life will do our level best to help you get it.
Thank you, and happy New [Fill In Your Theme] Year!
P.S. I’m honored and excited to be part of Dr. Mark Hyman’s “Fat Summit: Separating Fat From Fiction,” which starts on Jan. 25. This cool online learning event features an all-star lineup of experts, including Dr. David Ludwig.