One simple resolution meets all needs

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Relax and enjoy this New Year’s gift of a murmuration of starlings at dusk.

This morning I was all excited about this topic of a two-word resolution that could cover all the bases, and was composing this dharma post in my head as I went to get my morning cup of coffee. I took the carton of soy milk from the fridge and shook it up…and got soy milk all over me, the floor, the counter, the fridge, and well, just everywhere.

Why do I mention this? Because my two-word resolution is: PAY ATTENTION.

I had to laugh. I clearly hadn’t been paying attention when I put the carton away yesterday, and I wasn’t paying attention when I began to shake it without noticing the top was so loose.

But, that only underscores how useful and versatile this resolution is! Here are some examples where it could be useful.

If you want to get a handle on your weight, PAY ATTENTION to your stomach. When it says it’s hungry, then eat. I don’t know about you but I might eat when I’m bored, anxious, and want a little taste treat, not just when I am hungry. I often eat a meal because the clock says it’s mealtime. Now I check in with my stomach instead. Maybe that means I eat a little earlier or later. Paying attention to my stomach, I stop when I’m no longer hungry. Not stuffed! Big distinction! I am finding that when I pay attention to my stomach, the scale is kinder. And if I pay attention to the taste of the food, instead of gobbling, I am satisfied with less, and have even found some treat to be tasteless rather than a delicious reward. Good to know!

If you want to get more exercise, PAY ATTENTION to your body when it wants to move. Then pay attention when it says it’s had enough so that you don’t get so sore you develop a negative attitude toward movement, which is best if it’s joyful.

If you want to improve your relationships, PAY ATTENTION to others when they talk.

If you want to be a better driver, PAY ATTENTION! Distraction is the main cause of all accidents.

If you want to save money, PAY ATTENTION to your spending. Stop mindlessly adding things to the cart!

If you want to enjoy nature, PAY ATTENTION instead of plugging into your phone or over-engaging in conversation the whole time.

I’m sure you can think of lots of other instances where paying attention would help. But how do we learn to pay attention? The practice of meditation teaches us to focus on the breath or other sensations. Good training for anything you want to do in life.

If the phrase ‘Pay attention!’ brings up memories of being scolded in that way, find another word or phrase that helps you find the joy of being present in this moment, just as it is.

Happy New Year!

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