Pray, sleep and eat mindfully.  This trio of values is one I hope to live by in the coming month of holiday parties and family gatherings, and beyond, into the New Year of 2015.   Here’s why:

Pray.  The world needs our prayers.  I love praying because it makes me feel good.  It is calming and gives me the sense that I am contributing to the improvement of the world around me.  There are two things to keep in mind: when you pray, pray from your heart and don’t be concerned about the words you use.  And, be aware that your prayers may not be answered in quite the way you hope.  For example, a good friend of mine prayed that he would get a job he had interviewed for and deeply desired.  He was hired and, within six months, was fired.   There were serious, hidden problems within the company’s management team; in retrospect, he ended up feeling glad to be relieved of his duties.   Within months after losing that job he miraculously regained his old position at his former employer.  His prayer had been answered, but within the context of a significant life lesson:  He learned that what he desired was not always what he truly needed, and that prayer is best rendered in the form of “what is for the greatest good of all concerned.”

Sleep.  Getting a good night’s sleep depends on a few key elements:  a room that is dark, quiet,  cool and free of distractions enough to allow the natural process of sleep to occur for 6-8 hours. Sleep is a restorative activity; it brings balance and renewed energy to our daily lives.  Most Americans are sleep deprived; as a result, their physical vigor is sapped, and mental acuity is dulled.  A sleep cycle of adequate length also contains REM time (rapid eye movement) thought to be important to our emotional well-being and balance.

Sleep is fragile and I have learned to treat it with the care and attention it deserves.  Here are some tips: Make a sanctuary of your bedroom so that it is associated with rest, relaxation, and a quiet place where there is no TV or blaring sounds to intrude on your inner peace.   Make a ritual of getting ready for sleep and repeat it each night; it will soon become associated with resting.  You will be rewarded with a regular pattern of sleep that heals you from the cares of the day and eases your mind and body into a state of soothing relaxation.  You will awaken ready for the new day feeling at your best and in harmony with the flow of the world around you.

Eat healthy food.  Eating organic and fresh produce, drinking ample water during each day, and avoiding chemical-laden foods and beverages will increase the radiant health of your body, mind and spirit. Being fit and healthy will enable you to pursue the dreams and goals you desire in order to fulfill your life purpose.  We have often heard the expression, “You are what you eat” and we know that it is more than cute folklore; it is the real science of nutrition and good health, the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle that takes care of the whole person that you are.  I often give thanks for having been raised in an Italian home where great food was an everyday experience; and not just great tasting food but food that was made with love.  You can taste the difference!

This fall I discovered a new approach to a healthy diet and lifestyle from my friend and nutrition coach, Terry Spaeth  (TERRYSPAETH.COM).  The book is titled, “Am I Hungry? What to do when diets don’t work” by Michelle May, M.D. (www.AmIHungry.com)

This book is a welcome, sane approach to our relationship with food in a world that has gone crazy over diets. It urges us to listen to our body in order to understand the real reasons we overeat in the first place.  It combines the concept of mindful eating with the principles of good nutrition and healthy living.  The book would make a great gift for yourself or someone you love who struggles with yo-yo dieting.  A perfect complement to the book is a free phone app, MyFitnessPal, that tracks daily food intake, measures calories, keeps track of exercise, and sends cheerful messages of encouragement.  Who knew keeping a food diary could be this much fun?!

As 2014 comes to a close and the New Year approaches, I send you the warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season.  May you celebrate life at every opportunity, embrace change with grace and confidence, and love people, not things.  I look forward to seeing you in 2015!