There’s never a bad time to be more axolotl! As I explain in The Little Book of Axolotl Wisdom , this amphibian might look humble, but, in reality this new year, it has much to teach us about finding joy, breathing better, staying hydrated, harnessing our growth factor, and owning our hard. So, as we usher in the new year and look for ways to live healthier, stronger, and better lives, here are some axolotl-like habits to consider cultivating in 2023 and beyond. 

Little Book of Axolotl Wisdom

Have a Mantra

Mantras can help us stay calm, increase our focus, and make great choices for a great life. If an axolotl had a mantra, it would go something like “glurgle burble bubble.” After all, as aquatic animals, axolotls spend most of their lives in water. Hey, maybe that phrase will work for you. If not, consider adapting one of these mantras, and start the new year with the right mentality: 

  • “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well,” Julian of Norwich
  • “I am a certified bad bitch,” Walter Kemp
  • “There is no synonym for cinnamon,” Claudia, The Dragon Prince

The words matter less than their effect: whatever you say should be able to take you out of the moment and return you to yourself. And, from there, anything is possible.

Get Good Sleep

Scientists have yet to find an animal who doesn’t sleep. You can be sure that axolotls are getting their necessary hours of shut-eye. For many humans, getting by on the minimum number of hours of sleep has become a badge of honor. But we should all strive to get good sleep.

Recent studies have shown that consistently getting fewer than six hours  per night in your 50s and 60s can lead to dementia. Adults of all ages who don’t get enough sleep can develop diabetes or problems with alcohol, not to mention having to deal with constantly feeling foggy and out-of-it. So, this near year resolve to aim for the recommended seven-plus hours of sleep per night.

Nurture Your Awe

For an axolotl, awe is a piece of cake. An axolotl’s face has a permanent expression of awe, since these cute creatures don’t blink and mostly swim around with their mouths hanging open, hoping some food will float in. They appear to exist in a perpetual state of wide-eyed amazement. Each of us could use some of that.

Awe is an antidote to negativity, fretfulness, and anger—and, along with exercising and eating right, nurturing awe has been positively correlated with increased longevity. Add some awe to your life by:

  • Going outside—nature is full of pure awesomeness
  • Rethinking technology—imagine your great-grandmother’s reaction to your smartphone or to an ATM. The tech we often take for granted is actually really incredible. 
  • Breaking an experience into little parts—listen carefully to a Lizzo song, and separate the vocals from the instrumentals, or stare at Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” until you can pick out every brushstroke. 

Cultivating awe means slowing down and focusing. It means finding the fun, which is a most excellent habit.  

Kill Your Inner Critic

In the wild, axolotls are brown, black, or olive, which help camouflage themselves in vegetation. Pet axolotls can be pale millennial pink or creamy white with saffron spots. Whatever their color or shape or size, though, you’ll never find an axolotl wishing it were otherwise. Humans, however, have inner critics. These critics, loudly and incessantly, catalogue our flaws, detail our mistakes, and otherwise make us feel rotten about ourselves.

Muzzling that critical monologue requires radical self-compassion and self-love. You need to give yourself an infusion of confidence. Do so by recalling a time you achieved a goal or met with success. Make a list of your special strengths. If you’re having trouble coming up with a list, think about what a friend or parent might say. Then believe it!      

Bloom Where You’re Planted

Axolotls are masters of blooming where they’re planted: today, axolotls are among the most successful animals in laboratory settings, contributing to cutting-edge discoveries in regenerative medicine and gene therapy, among other scientific fields. And the majority of them are descended from a group of axolotls shipped from Mexico to Paris in 1863.

Blooming where you’re planted means doing the best you can wherever you are, even as you set your sights for something bigger or different. Eventually circumstances will change, because they always do.

Axolotl Wisdom

Jessica Allen writes about food, culture, travel, parenting, and New York City, where she lives. Shes also the author of The Magic of Astrology and The Great American Read: The Book of Books.