How to Find Clarity Amidst Chaos

Most of us have things we want and think we need to be happy. This drama plays over and over in our minds and lives. This can be little things, both tangible and intangible, like new shoes or attention from others. They are also bigger things, such as a relationship, a new house, or a new job. It's important to remember that nothing exists outside of us that's not already within us. If we are looking for happiness in things outside of us, we will never be satisfied, always chasing the next thing we think we need. This is because happiness doesn't come from having things or receiving any sort of validation from the outside world.

To make our world right, we have to look at how we are deceiving ourselves into believing we aren't already whole and complete. It's easy to blame the outside world for our problems, for our feelings of suffering and lack. By turning inward, we can free ourselves from this reliance on outside things to complete us. This can be a cumbersome process, this rewriting of old limiting belief systems, but it's the only way to experience true happiness and fulfillment. Once we feel total inner peace and happiness, the outer world meets us with more of our wants, understanding we don't actually "need" any of them. Sure, it feels good to walk around in a new pair of shoes or to share a life with someone we truly love, but we don't need those things to complete us.

For many, 2020 has been a devastating year. We watched loved ones grow ill or pass away. We experienced lack of certainty in our government and the decisions being made to protect us. We heard the pain from the black community for the unfair treatment felt for far too long. Our living conditions and everyday ways of life we upended.

How can we make 2021 better? It starts with fully committing to this idea that happiness comes from within. In the process of turning inward, we can learn to be more like a tree. We plant deep roots into the ground that allow the tree to weather any storm. We extend our branches high up to the heavens, our source of inspiration, to find light.

Here's an activity for creating a framework for ushering this mindset into your life.

Tree of Life Activity

Find a piece of paper and writing utensil, and draw a picture of a large tree, beginning with thick roots digging into the earth. Below the roots, list the limiting beliefs that you've been holding onto. For example, "I need more money. I don't have enough time for myself. I need others to love me." Give these to the earth to fertilize her soil.

Next, draw a trunk, and extend four large branches with tips reaching skyward. Label one of these branches Health. Here, list three ways you will take better care of your health. This may include things like exercise, diet, or sleep.

Label a second branch Love, and list three ways you'll show more love to yourself. This might be activities like listening to music or taking bubble baths, or nonphysical things like setting better boundaries or being in the moment.

For the third branch, call it Earth. List three ways you'll do a better job of giving back to the planet. This could be things like picking up trash during walks or hikes, planting trees, or volunteering at a homeless shelter. Do what speaks to you.

For the fourth branch, label it Joy. List three things you'll do to feel more joy. Examples could be learning to play the guitar, taking an art class, or regularly spending time in nature.

Color in the tree with as much detail as you feel like adding. Hang it somewhere you'll see it every day as a reminder to your commitment to yourself. Remember having a better 2021 is directly related to how you perceive the world internally.

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