New Beginnings

Goodlifer: New Beginnings

Take responsibility for your actions, stay hopeful, be healthy, tirelessly strive, love unconditionally, and approach everything with a positive attitude (even the laundry that has to be hauled two blocks to the laundromat and back), those are the goals I want to set for myself in the new year. Resolutions tend to not work out all that well, maybe since they’re commonly bound to guilt — not something we want to carry with us constantly. Goals are more motivating, they make you strive for success rather than escape failure. Changing thought patterns are the first step in transforming your life.

Knowledge is power, but also a curse. The more you know about things that aren’t right in the world and your life, the harder it is to look away. If you know that fake Prada bag on Canal Street was made by a seriously mistreated child in Thailand or that cheap DVD player assembled by a practically enslaved factory worker in China, how good can you feel about yourself using it? If you know that stuff in colorful packages they sell in the supermarket and call food is anything but (and may actually make you sick), how can you ever eat and enjoy it? But you need to know these things, a life lived with blinders is not an honest life. Learn the backstory of everything you purchase, make sure that in buying it you are not compromising the existence of any being on this earth. Take responsibility for your actions, not only the direct, but the indirect ones as well.

You can loose all the weight you want, and it will make you feel great, but if you loose hope you loose everything. Leaving a year when disappointments — a continued harsh economic climate, watered-down healthcare reform, the Climate Summit in Copenhagen that quickly went from Hopenhagen to Nopenhagen, Tiger Woods cheating on his perfect Swedish blonde — were many, its important that we not give up but keep our eyes on what is important to us all. People tell me every day that they feel powerless, like their actions don’t matter if large corporations can get away with anything (Wall Street investment firms, Monsanto, Detroit car makers). It’s hard to know how to inspire someone to keep at it, but I can try. The more people that try, the more we can affect change.

Goodlifer: Health

Make a commitment — to eating well, to living well and to feeling well. The fact is we cannot be healthy if we don’t eat well, and we cannot eat well without putting some effort into it (unless you can afford a personal chef, in which case I would like to be invited for dinner). We spend less time (and money) than ever shopping for and preparing foods. Indeed, the number one complaint is that we don’t have time to cook, exercise or clean the house, yet we watch more TV than ever, almost five hours a day on average (ironically, cooking shows are hugely popular). Something’s wrong with that picture. Let’s shift things around: step out of the virtual world of television and the internet and into the real world, prioritizing cooking, conversation, intimacy and physical activity.

It’s hard to make the right lifestyle choices when our supermarkets are akin to toxic mine fields. A few rules I try to live by is not eating anything with ingredients I cannot pronounce, especially High Fructose Corn Syrup, Aspartame, Hydrogenated anyting, and Monosodium Glutamate. But for an expert view, do order a copy of our nation’s most trusted resource on food issues Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, featuring a set of memorable rules for eating wisely, whether at the supermarket or an all-you-can-eat-buffet. The perfect guide for anyone who would like to become more mindful of the food we eat. And who doesn’t?

There are positive trends that I am very excited about. People are giving more money to charitable causes than ever before, and this in the midst of a recession. Perhaps we feel guilt that we live so well while people in the developing world are starving, or perhaps we are witnessing a global rise in compassion, caring for our co-habitors on this planet. Values among young people are also shifting from material to experiential, they are putting less emphasis on the accumulation of stuff and more on family, friends, love, travel etc. Perhaps we have figured out that we have been duped, that happiness cannot be bought after all. Many Westerners gained the ability to buy virtually everything they could ever dream of (cheaply made in a distant country to bring the prices down of course), stuff piled up and what happened? We became more unhappy, depressed. The stuff was weighing us down.

But now we are confused, If we no longer aspire to that shiny new car, fabulous handbag or big house, then what are we striving toward? The goals in this new world are more ambiguous. We want to change the world, channel that contagious “Yes We Can”-spirit once again, feel that we make a difference. We choose jobs not for what they pay but for self-development and what they can help us accomplish. We will work less, spend more time with loved ones, cook more, enjoy long meals together and just do nothing once in a while. The failure of Wall Street made us realize that, yes, money still matters, but only as a means of comfortable living rather than an end in itself. Strive for greatness, whatever that means to you.

I’m not sure that human’s are able to love completely unconditionally, like dogs do, but we can try. Love is a blessing and should be handled with care. I had a German philosophy teacher in school who to the all-too-common question “how are you?” always replied “today is a good day to die.” Perhaps a bit severe, but it stuck with me. Live each day like it was your last, and leave nothing unsaid or undone. Love the world and it will love you back.

Shit happens, that’s just a fact of life. You can either revel in it, or, brush it off with a smile and keep moving. And bad things won’t happen less because you’ve been thinking and worrying about them. Good things will come to those who expect it. We may all be screwed, sure, but walking around thinking about the end of the world every day is enough to make anyone go nuts. Be nice to strangers, they may be your next best friend. I am a cynic by nature, but am trying hard every day to change my way of thinking and become more positive. It’s done me good so far, and I intend to stick with it until I explode in a yellow cloud of happy thoughts. Maybe I will make the world a tiny bit better, maybe not, but it will sure seem a lot better when viewed through a happy lens.

Finally, here’s what I will be doing in this new year: make time for more yoga, and by that I don’t mean stressing to and from class but really taking the time to enjoy the practice, rekindle my friendship with the running shoes and try to do at least one long and one short run every week, wake up earlier every morning to enjoy breakfast at home with my love, and start off every weekend with a glass of champagne in bed, just because it makes me feel good.

Photos by Johanna Björk (top, Hope, Strive, Love, Positivity) & Marc Alt (Responsibility, Health).

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
4 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Great article Johanna, enjoy that champagne!

  2. GREAT piece! Thanks. I linked to it from my FB page 🙂

  3. Thank you for this intelligent post. I spend time think about this daily thanks for the wonderful validation. To a New Year of Responsibility, greater awareness and considered choices!

  4. Superb post!
    “unless you can afford a personal chef, in which case I would like to be invited for dinner”—laughed to that.
    I think what you wrote is very inspirational and I toast a glass of champagne to you and your health! cheers~

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What constitutes the good life? It’s a question we’ve asked ourselves since the dawn of time and something we all strive for. To us, the good life is not a destination but a journey. We want to see more positivity in the world. Thinking happy thoughts makes for happy people, and happy people are more productive, innovative and at peace with the world. We believe in the transformative power of good news.

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