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The New Year arrives wrapped in a glistening layer of Hope. There is a sense that one can start over. The slate is cleared. All our mistakes and misfortunes are joyfully replaced by visions of abundant opportunities arising in the future. The word “new” is such a delicious word. It comes packed with the thrill of experiencing something good. The hope of finally getting what you have desired. 

This powerful gift doesn’t have to wait 365 days to be unwrapped. You have the opportunity every moment to begin again. It only requires 2 things of you; having awareness and engaging your will. That’s it. Sounds simple, but not easy. By now you know that everything you treasure in your life has not come easy. In fact, the hard work and struggle makes those good things feel even more valuable to you. You wouldn’t know what happiness was unless you have felt sadness. There is no left without right. Good weather is appreciated more when one weathered a terrible storm. Just ask anyone on the East coast experiencing arctic temperatures right now.

The above paragraph is me trying to engage your will. I admit it. In fact I’m very good at it. I have many years of practice. When someone comes in to see me for help, they are usually stuck and feeling hopeless. They cannot see that it is temporary, but I can. It feels huge to them and they don’t know any other way to experience what they’re going through. “The life force is always in the process of change- nothing is fixed.”  This is a blessing, not a curse.  If you work with this fact, and stop working against it your life is going to get a whole lot better. When you’re steep in unhappiness, struggling with a challenge, remember that it is temporary and will eventually pass.   Keeping this in mind will help your endurance. When happiness drops in your lap, enjoy every moment of it. It too shall pass. Knowing that happiness is impermanent will help you savor each minute of it when it arrives. You’re causing unnecessary unhappiness when you pine too long for what you lost. You cannot time travel. Stop adding salt to your wounds. Instead, remember there’s always another bus coming. This is what it takes to engage your will; the ability to see the big picture. It’s important for your survival to think outside of the box. Open up to new ways of being in this world, it’s refreshing. Make inspiration a priority. Find people who make you light up with passion and enthusiasm. Read literature that opens your mind. Explore the world and find places that spark your joie de vive. Stockpile inspiring moments, you will need to call on them when you’re in the trenches battling life. They are little gifts that will engage your will and push you forward toward higher ground.

And now for “awareness.” Awareness is like the sunshine and water that nurtures a little seed. It holds the important elements for fruition.   Without nurturance, the seed will lie dormant and never blossom Awareness is where all the growth is. You always have the opportunity to begin again but first you must have the awareness of when you’re shutting yourself down. Self-criticism is like poison to the little seed. It is not nurturing. Instead, choose awareness as a goal. If something does not go your way, don’t waste your time berating yourself.   Take a distant view and ask yourself, “How can I do this better next time?” Let curiosity be your key word in 2018 not criticism. Curiosity will open you up and criticism will shut you down. But in order to make this change you have to help your awareness get stronger. Meditation is a wonderful way to help you cultivate awareness and a kinder relationship to yourself.  Learn more about it here. It takes practice to learn how to be more aware, and break old patterns of behavior, but if you’re invested in your personal growth, well worth it. Insight helps you to see when you’re neglecting rather than nurturing yourself. With this information, you can begin to engage your will and start the wheels of change in motion. With time, the importance of self-awareness and the engagement of your will can become second nature to you. You will meet challenges with enthusiasm and an excitement because it presents the opportunity for you to learn something new about yourself. Awareness is like a good compass, it will always show you which direction your going. May 2018 and every year after be filled with joy for your journey.

I’ve created The Conscious Actor Inspiration Journal; to help actors develop awareness of what inspires them. Beautiful pages filled with inspirational quotes to help keep you strong minded. For New York actors, the journal is available at Drama Book Shop Los Angeles actors may pick up the journal at Samuel French Bookshop

Conscious Actor articles are not a substitution for professional psychotherapy.

Bonnie Katz, MFT is a licensed therapist in private practice. Her goal as a therapist is to help clients reach “optimal mental wellness”, so that they can feel happiness, fulfillment and joy in their everyday lives. For more information on Bonnie’s therapy practice, visit her website.