Dragonflies are reminders that we are light and we can reflect light in powerful ways if we choose to do so. Robyn Nola, artist
In nearly every corner of the world, the dragonfly symbolizes change, transformation, adaptability, and self-realization. The iridescence of its wings and body is associated with one’s ability to unmask the real self and embrace true identity.
Discovering and embracing who we are is an integral aspect of our maturity. A friend of mine who is facing the challenge of addiction recovery has a dragonfly tattoo on her arm as a symbol of her transformation. To her, the dragonfly stands for hope, change, and love. It is a symbol that reminds her to embrace change and strive to be true to herself.
Affirmation: I am true to myself.
Coaching questions: In what ways have you changed and become more of your true self this past year? What symbol would you use to prompt you to reflect light and embrace self-realization?
I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying. Michael Jordan
Although I’ve been using weight machines and handheld weights for over eighteen months, I was recently disappointed when I learned that my bone density had again declined. I was hopping the weight training would move me in the opposite direction.
I’ve decided to add at least one percent to my training every time I go to the gym. One more push with the weight, one more mile on the bike. James Clear in his book Atomic Habits argues for the power one percent. “If a pilot leaving from LAX adjusts his heading just 3.5 degrees south, his plane will land in Washington, D.C., instead of New York. Such a small change is barely noticeable at takeoff — the nose of the airplane moves just a few feet — but when magnified across the entire United States, passengers end up hundreds of miles from their destination.”
My take-away is that if I make even a tiny change in my workout routine, or any other aspect of my life, I can move myself to a different destination. It’s worth a try.
Affirmation: I can do a bit more.
Coaching questions: In what area of your life do you need to adjust just one percent? What difference will it make in the long run? Are you willing to give it a try? When will you start?
Photo by Amarnath Tade on Unsplash
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Maya Angelou, author
As I speak with women of the Silent and Greatest Generations, I’m learning that attitude is a significant factor in their successful aging. Perhaps, attitude is even a greater influencer than what they eat or how much they exercise.
Maxine, a healthy centenarian with whom I spoke, gave the advice to “live one day at a time.” She embraced the shikata ga nai I wrote about in my last blog—accept what can’t be helped and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Another vibrant woman, age ninety-one, said, “Make it happen.” Her life continues to be built around recognizing needs in her community then addressing the need. As a younger woman, she helped start a church, the local library, park district (including senior center and teen center), women’s club, artists’ association, historical society and museum. The day I interviewed her, she was preparing for an art show and sale.
Affirmation: My attitude contributes to my successful aging.
Coaching questions: What attitudes move you towards aging with grace? What attitudes do you need to tweak?
My vibrant friend, Maxine, on her birthday.
’Tis easier to prevent bad habits than to break them. Benjamin Franklin
About forty percent of our daily life is habitual action. Brushing our teeth, making our bed, drinking coffee, going for a morning walk, checking social media. When, where, what and how much we eat and even how we interact with our friends and family—all largely based on habits. According to Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before: Mastering the Habit of Our Everyday Lives, “Habit is a good servant but a bad master.” Habits can help us make positive change but they can also be saboteurs of our progress.
Often the most effective way to adopt a new habit is to replace a bad one with a better one. Diverting a river is better than damming it up. Watch for triggers that might set you back including boredom and stress. Commit to at least sixty days to establish a new habit.
Affirmation: I can change my habits.
Coaching questions: What bad habit would you like to change? What good habit would you like to develop? What difference will it make in your life? Is the change powerful enough to pull you through sixty days of establishing a new path? Commit to it. You can do this!
Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author
When my late husband, Keith, literally dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of fifty three, I experienced first hand the “great and sudden change” Shelley is talking about. This year, we will all experience change–hopefully not great and sudden but one never knows. Basic self-care practices—good sleep, healthy food, exercise, taking breaks— can help you navigate future change more smoothly.
“Start making small changes when you’re not stressed,” says psychiatrist Henry Emmons, MD, author of The Chemistry of Calm. “Think of it like exercise. If you’re trying to get in shape, you don’t try to do a month’s worth of workouts in one day.”
The same is true when training yourself to deal with the stress response. The more you learn how to calm your mind when your stress is small, the better prepared you will be for the big change that will inevitably come your way.
Affirmation: I am ready for change.
Coaching questions: Consider how well you handle change. What will you do to prepare yourself now to handle change more effectively in the future? What difference might it make?
Conversation is the currency of change. Margaret Wheatley, American author
In a time when there is great division in our country and around the world, conversation is paramount. Change happens when “the other” has a name, a face, and is willing to honestly share his or her views. You may still have differing opinions. However, when there is conversation, there is the possibility of relationship, understanding, and change.
It’s comforting to gather with like-minded friends and colleagues. It’s a growth opportunity to expose oneself to diverse ideas, cultures, ages, life-styles.
Affirmation: I want to be in conversation.
Coaching questions: In the past, what conversations have helped you change and grow? What conversation do you need to have today?
It turns out what you watch, read, listen to and play can affect your mood, temper, and even how generous and kind you are to others afterwards. Elaine Shpungin Ph.D., founder of Conflict 180
If you are coping with significant change in your life, you may want to consider going on a media diet. Maybe you’re a fan of violent or dramatic games or shows. During a time of transition—the death of a loved one, divorce, job loss—when your emotions are close to the surface, you might opt for comedy instead.
According to research by the Mayo Clinic, laughter calms the stress response and releases endorphins. Also consider your social media exposure. Although you may receive support from your friends via social media, managing your own feelings can be difficult enough without comparing yourself to others.
Affirmation: I take note of my media habits.
Coaching questions: How is your media consumption affecting your actions or mood? If changes are needed, what steps will you take this week?