Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

Five Words To Inspire You To Live Your Best Year Yet

As last year drew to a close I heard a lot of buzz about Elizabeth Gilbert‘s Happiness Jars, an idea she created for herself years ago and is now passing on to inspire us. This magical jar creates self-awareness about even the tiniest blessings in our lives.

inspire life

I promised to start my own jar in the new year. Getting into the habit of writing down something to be grateful about every day would force me to find the smallest bit of good that happened on a bad day and the best thing that occurred on a good one.

In my 56 years on this planet I’ve learned one important lesson about myself: I never follow resolutions. Look into my knitting bag(s) and you’ll gasp at the number of unfinished scarves, hats and blankets I promised to bind off at the beginning of several new years. Or step into my library to see the number of books stuffed into our bookshelves, ones I said I’d box and donate every year. These include recipe books that I promised to use after promising to start cooking again.

In a prior post I wrote about my new Choices Notebook Planner and how I’d be using it to set goals for 2016. Many of my goals focus on my work as a writer, but others address taking better care of myself – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

As I round the corner toward 60 and my disability taunts me a little more each day I decided that it’s finally time for ME.

Does that sound self-centered? Perhaps, but I think in order to live a quality life we need to sometimes be self-centered. If we don’t put ourselves first who will? Work can wait and our loves ones can too. What we need to do is tend to ourselves.

At the end of last year there was also a lot of chatter about choosing a single word to help you focus on your goals in the coming year. Pick one word to keep in your mind’s eye and it will be your guide.

Happy. Achieve. Listen. Balance. Commitment. Strong. These were all popular choices. I tried to think about what my word would be. One word. One word. One word. I couldn’t decide on only one. I became frustrated and tucked the idea away.

Until the other day. At first I couldn’t understand why I suddenly started thinking about choosing a word and finding a glass jar again. Something unlocked that door. What was it?

That day was filled with boring errands, like going to the DMV while the digital thermometer on my car’s dashboard read a single digit: 9. I’d rather be under the covers sipping hot chocolate with flannel pajamas and two pair of socks on.

Then it dawned on me. Despite running around and feeling anxious that I wasn’t getting any work done I was spending time alone with my husband. It might not be the romantic, quality time a woman dreams of, but in my heart I knew that doing mundane chores together made me happier than doing them alone.

We both work from home and honor each other’s space. From 9 to 5 we’re in business mode unless we take a break to walk around the block together.

After finishing our errands we rewarded ourselves with a casual lunch at a local diner. Sitting together, having someone else cook our meal and wait on us felt divine. We chatted, laughed and talked about the coming year. After being together for 30 years it still fills my heart to spend time alone with my husband. It doesn’t get any better than that.

I tore off a piece of paper and wrote down my first words to fill my new Happiness Jar: Lunch out with my husband and feeling very loved.

Now that I began my Happiness Jar I wanted to find my one word. I thought and thought and decided I needed something more. I wanted to redefine a group of words that were failed resolutions of the past, ones that take on new meaning at this point in my life. You can tweak them to suit your own story:

Diet: It’s time to slim down by removing toxic-thinking people from my life, shed negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones, and choose healthy social and work-related relationships.

Exercise: I vow to exercise my mind by reading the pile of books on top of and in my night table. I will stretch my brain by learning new skills, and incorporate healing therapies to achieve inner and outer balance.

Faith: I will trust that things happen for a reason and that I am in the exact place I am supposed to be. I will trust that I am doing the best I can within my abilities and have faith that my best will always be good enough.

Courage: I will look at myself in the mirror and not focus on wrinkles, extra pounds and untamed hair but instead will see a mature woman using her adversities as a way of helping others as best as she can. I will have the courage to admit there is great beauty in that.

Relax: I will unclench my jaw and learn to breathe. I will live more in the moment to fully enjoy my life. I will spend time listening, loving and learning from others, relaxed in the knowledge that doing this is where the magic begins. I will not take anything for granted. Today is the best day we have. And tomorrow will be as well. And the next day.

Each day is a gift that we are each blessed with. I hope your days will be blessed with inner peace, great joy and good health.


If you’ve enjoyed my writing I hope you’ll take a moment to vote for AN EMPOWERED SPIRIT as Best Health Blog of 2015. Click here and scroll to LOAD MORE until you reach An Empowered Spirit. You can vote once a day through January 21 using BOTH your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Thank you for your support of the work I do. It is deeply appreciated.

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56 thoughts on “Five Words To Inspire You To Live Your Best Year Yet

    1. Post author

      First, Tam, I pray your hubby is doing well. Thinking of him and you in my healing thought. I am glad you read my post while in a place that can be difficult. Gratitude can be found even in the most difficult of situations. I know you already know that! Hugs…

  1. Anne Louise Bannon

    I love that you picked five words instead of one. I’m not usually a fan of these sorts of challenges (and focus is so not happening). But I like the idea that we can take challenges and words and redefine them in ways that work for us rather than what most folks say they should be. If that makes sense.

  2. Jennifer

    Love how your changed other people’s yearly resolutions into meaningful actions. Gratitude jars are wonderful. My husband and I have been keeping one for a few years now. Our New Year’s Eve ritual is to re-read those slips of gratitude and then start again.
    Jennifer recently posted…Creativity Prompt NineMy Profile

  3. Leanne@crestingthehill

    I loved every bit of this post – from lunch with your lovely husband right through to re-purposing your resolution words into something more meaningful than our superficial world tries to make us take on. Beauty first and foremost comes from withing and I’m a big advocate of becoming a better person rather than all the hype around losing weight or filling wrinkles! And I’ve voted for you twice now xx

  4. Roxanne Jones

    Love your five words, Cathy, and the way you frame them. I was able to pick one word this year — mindful — because it applies just about every area of my life that deserves attention, and can be tweaked to reflect what needs to be done (such as being more mindful of what I’m putting in my mouth, or of scaling back on commitments when the work-life balance gets out of whack). Love the happiness jar idea, too…not sure I’d remember to do it every day (see why “mindful” is my word?), but even a few times a week is a great way to document all reasons we have to feel grateful–and happy.

  5. Michele

    I like the idea of a happiness jar, though I probably wouldn’t follow through with it. I am filling in the happiness and thumbs up sections of my Choices notebook though. I am still working on my one word…

  6. Carolann

    I think your words sum up inspiration perfectly! I have to say I was very inspired by your post. I think I have to make a list too. Mentally, each day, I recite all that I’m grateful for and the thought of creating a jar to fill up sounds like a perfectly wonderful idea! Thanks much for sharing this. I am very inspired by you!
    Carolann recently posted…How To Install Fonts And The Best Sites To Get ThemMy Profile

  7. Terri

    What a wonderful, uplifting post to read as I enjoy my last few days of my vacation. I’m already sressing about teaching a brand new class beginning 1/25 and feeling time pressure to be perfect at it. Thanks for the reminder to use my choices notebook and for the inspiration, Cathy. I’ll be sure to vote, it would not let me log in for some reason. Congrats on being in the running for the contest!
    Terri recently posted…Windy WeightlessnessMy Profile

    1. Post author

      I am honored to be along with you on vacation! I am sure you will be wonderful for your new class, Terri! Another exciting adventure for you ahead! Happy New Year and sorry about the problems with the website. Grr…

  8. Mackenzie Glanville

    As I approach 40 this year I have been thinking more about goals and my happiness, I don’t think I could pick one word when I am filled with so many and inspired to live as the best me I can be. You write beautifully, I feel inspired #blogsharelearn

    1. Post author

      Thank you, Cathy, and I”ll be 57 in a month! Fulfilling these definitions will definitely take work but oh, what the rewards will be! I’ll go and take a look at your post! Thanks for leaving your thoughts here.

    1. Post author

      Thank you and thank you, Estelle. I appreciate your thoughts and votes. Your #1 piece in your Happiness Jar should be your daughter not sleeping in your bed. Bravo on your piece in Washington Post Parents!

  9. Rebecca

    I love the happiness jar idea! I am looking for a large jar for my front entry. It will be for friends/family to fill with things they are grateful for.
    I was searching for my word of the year and came up with 2. Purpose and contentment. Then I thought…what if I combine them? The first thing I thought of was POTENT! So, I am sticking with 2 words.

  10. Nancy Hill (@nerthus)

    A wonderful guide for being where you are, making the most of it, and being grateful. Love it. I wish I could always be in this headspace. I try. I will try more. I sincerely hope that the inspiration you spark for so many others brings good fortune to you. Off to vote!

    1. Post author

      I love hearing from you Nancy because I have such great respect for your writing and what you do. Your intelligence comes through each word so when I receive compliments from you I am thrilled. Happy New Year and thank you VERY much for voting!

  11. Lana

    Thank you for adding me to your Facebook group. I realized as I was commenting there tonight, that although I faithfully read your blog, I rarely comment. Which is just unacceptable :)! Many of your posts have inspired me in the year I have been reading. One of my best friends suffers from MS, which is what initially drew me here. I also purchased the Choices planner, and one of the parts I love is the gratitude list. One of my entries from last week reads “having lunch with my husband”! I love the words that you chose for 2016. Happy New Year to you!

    1. Post author

      Thank you for commenting now, Lana! My blog is here to (hopefully!) enjoy and if a reader cares to comment, great! If not that’s fine too. As long as my words make some kind of difference then, well, that means everything.

      You are a good best friend to be so caring about yours and I hope they find some quality of life no matter how small that is on some days.

      Glad you have the planner. Isn’t it incredible?

      Happy New Year and I hope it’s a joyful one!

  12. Pingback: The Week In (Awesome!) Multiple Sclerosis News – 1/15/2016 | MyCounterpane

  13. Jamie

    You don’t have wrinkles dearie. I have a photo of us to prove it. I love the idea of taking time for you. My two youngest (ours by adoption) are still very challenging at times but I’ve resolved to set boundaries for them no matter how they protest. Love them unconditionally — no matter how they protest. 🙂 And knowing that I’m doing the best I can, I’m trusting God with the rest. And enjoying this time of my life. Writing. Communing with friends online and face to face. Enjoying moments with my husband. No regrets of wasting years worrying about tomorrow. xo

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