As we move into a new year, it's customary for many to make resolutions. Bad habits we'll break, good behaviors we'll adopt. It's all well-intended but seldom leads to lasting positive change. Instead, at its worst, it can reinforce a belief that change is too difficult and even yield a sense of failure. Not quite the way to start the year!
Yet, reflection upon the new year can lead to growth from past experiences and positive momentum for the future. This year, instead of a focus on "doing," put your focus on "being." Consider the past year, taking out judgment of good and bad, noticing all that transpired. You may see things that you'd have done differently, and you may see things you consider successes. In both cases, accept them, learn from them if you can, and then let them go.
Now shift your emphasis to the presence that you've brought to the year. Have you brought joy? Anger? Serenity? Impatience? Again, assess this without judgment, taking care to be compassionate to yourself.
Finally, think about how actions and presence are interwoven. How has your presence in any moment been caused by your actions? Conversely, what actions have your underlying presence brought forth? For example, if you see that you've been irritable, you may notice that it may be associated with working too much. Or, you may notice that if you don't exercise on a certain day, you feel irritable. If you would value being more even in your disposition, these insights lead to logical steps to assess your career or to prioritize getting regular exercise.
At this point it would be easy to fall into the trap of making resolutions: "I'm going to exercise every day because then I feel better." Back away from this rigid approach! Instead, place your attention on being self-aware. As you go through the next year, take the time to notice how you're feeling, how you're being, and then what you're doing. Pay attention to how you affect others, and let your values drive your actions, bringing consciousness to your day-to-day life.
Finally, as a general offering for the next year, I can't top the words of my friend Mary Drew, who writes:
I hope that the holiday season and the new year are full of childlike wonder for you. That:
• Your family and loved ones make you feel good (and that you reciprocate).
• Your family and loved ones provide something for you to smile/laugh about (and that you reciprocate).
• You enjoy the anticipation of waiting for something exciting to happen.
• You have or will soon embrace some new experiences.
• You can claim an accomplishment.
• You experience some kind of "masterpiece."
• You experience a pleasant surprise now and again.
• You give and receive unexpected compliments from time to time.
• You deal well in spite of unavoidable unpleasantness.
• You give yourself a well-deserved break from work, "have to's," guilt, or whatever is causing high stress in your life.
• You receive love from and give kindness to all who pass your way.
Happy New Year!