Good Things Come to Those Who Breathe

My 2016 ended with a bang – two trips to the ER on New Year’s Eve. My son needed a cast for a small buckle fracture in his arm from a snowboard crash (see Exhibit A), and we had a health scare with my dad that ended up being nothing serious.

And that crazy evening reminded me of how grateful I am to have taken some time over the final week of the year to figure out my “One Word” for 2017. I’ve already needed to use it quite a bit.


Exhibit A


That’s my word. I know. I know. It’s kind of a boring word. We breathe all day, every day. But as I’ve shared before, I tend to do a lot of shallow breathing as I run from task to task and place to place, getting a lot of things done. One of the reasons I’ve loved running for so long is that it gets me breathing, deeply and steadily. Running serves, ironically, as a way for me to relax and just think for a while with no interruptions.

The One Word concept is nothing new – many people have been using it for several years. I thought about picking a word last year, but I won’t go into the crazy word I picked that didn’t stick. Suffice it to say, I was not an experienced “one worder” back then but I did give my family something to laugh at me about.

The idea with One Word is that, instead of making a long list of goals and resolutions that you will likely abandon by the end of January, you come up with one word that fits a theme you want to live by for the year. It can be sort of a mantra or slogan for the year, around which you design your life.

In my usual way of overcomplicating a simple process, I ended up brainstorming a list of possible words, including rest, create, smile, enjoy, encourage, focus, thrive, and flourish, to name a few. I needed to do more research, so I found the website “My One Word,” which provides a three-step outline to picking a word:

Step 1: Determine the kind of person you want to become.

Step 2: Identify the characteristics of that person.

Step 3: Pick a word.

I also watched this video by Jon Gordon (co-author of One Word that will change your life and Life Word: Discover your One Word to Leave a Legacy) which popped up on my Facebook feed and sums up how to select your One Word:

In the video, Gordon shares his three step one word process as:

Look in.

Look up.

Look out.

Going through a combination of both three-step processes (again, why do something simple when I can make it more complicated?) made it easier for me to pick my word. I want to become a better listener, someone who is more mindful, more relaxed, and more present. I want to write more notes and letters to people, make more phone calls, take more walks, spend more time writing and less time checking email or social media, feel less stressed and more relaxed. Apparently, breathing deeply is one key to all of these things.

I also got several “signs” over the week that reinforced my word choice. One of them was the gift my husband gave me for our anniversary (which also happened to fall on the fateful double emergency room day). He gave me a Fit Bit, and besides appealing to my goal-setting persona (WOO HOO! I GOT MY 10,000 STEPS TODAY!), it has a feature called “Relax” on it. When I select the feature, I get a two-minute breathing session coached for me. My new friend Fit Bit tells me, “Be still, take slow, deep breaths.”

I’m encouraged to “follow the circle to make it sparkle.”

I’m instructed to inhale as the cute little circle with a heart in the middle opens up.

And then exhale as the circle closes into a dot.

I’m forced to keep my breathing pace steady and slow. At the end of the breathing session, FB tells me, “All done – good things come to those who breathe.”

To be honest, two-minutes currently seems interminable, and I haven’t quite completed one complete session yet without getting sidetracked by another task. But I know with practice, I’ll master this slow breathing deal. Maybe I’ll even work my way up to the five-minute relax cycle!

Yes! Good things do come to those who breathe.

I was trying to hold myself back from being a “one word” bully with my family, but, alas, I could not. So, some of the words they came up with for themselves (after a bit of prodding) include present, simplify, explore, positive, and gratitude. I dream of having each family member create a sign with their word, then taking a family photo (a la Jon Gordon), but that will need to be for another year. One step at a time, people.

As a life-long goal addict, I thrive on creating resolutions and action plans. Before I decided to do the “one word” instead, I had already purchased a “Living Well Planner” featuring annual (“Long Term”) and monthly goal sheets that cover different life areas, including personal growth, fun & recreation, health & fitness, home improvements, finance goals, and relational goals. I relished listing my goals for January and for the year, then completing the “project planning” sheet with details, notes, and brainstorming. But now I realize that what I really need to do this year is just focus on my one word. Because all the time I spend being productive tends to make me less focused on my most important priorities – including listening well to and being present with the people I love and taking care of myself. And, so, for 2017, my one word mantra is a reminder to slow down, rest, listen, and be present. Breathe.

One Word Resources:

If you are interested in picking one word (don’t worry, it’s never too late to pick a word!), check out some of these resources:
My One Word website
Get One Word website
Create a poster with your one word here

And if, like me, you like to go a little bit crazy with these kinds of things, you can also order a bracelet, necklace, or keychain with your word on it at My Intent.

And, finally, my Breathe board on Pinterest. Enjoy!

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