2023: Will Your Wisdom Lead the Way?
The beginning of a new year is a natural reset. As 2022 drew to a close, I’m sure many of us paused to take inventory of the past year, a reflection that may very well have caused us to launch a new intention.
When it comes to resolutions, every advice-giver on the internet recommends keeping a new start simple and do-able. They say it’s wise to break a sweeping goal of change (the goal of getting healthy, for instance) into small steps—and take one change-step at a time.
Some top off their advice with a key distinction: it’s best to choose a new start that makes us happy while we accomplish it. If the steps to realizing our goal aren’t fun or rewarding in themselves, we slip back and then it’s over.
However, if our change-steps are enjoyable and they bear fruit, we are encouraged to continue. And let’s be generous with ourselves—January 1 or anytime is a good time for a new start!
Focus on a Personal Quality
In my experience, we are most successful with resolutions that are easy to hold in the spotlight, such as focusing on a quality we wish to experience and express more in our lives.
This kind of resolution not only grows our awareness skills, but it can be carried out with small steps on any given day, throughout the day.
Here are some examples of qualities we might want to experience more abundantly in the coming year.
EASE: We begin by noticing ease (or lack of it) in extra-simple situations. We pay more attention.
We hunt for a pair of glasses and get frustrated. There’s an opportunity for more ease.
We can’t find an important document and we notice our exasperation. There’s another chance to BE the thing we want more of—ease.
Again, we’re paying attention.
What’s one simple thing we can do or say to find ease in this moment? Maybe we stop trying so hard. We take our attention off the lost item and come back to it a little later, and there it is.
BE UNHURRIED: We pay new attention to our speed of movement, simple as that.
We pay attention to the pace of daily tasks such as eating, driving, or getting dressed. Are we in a hurry unnecessarily?
Then something delightful happens… we notice that giving ourselves time to enjoy an average moment feels downright luxurious. We also add pleasure to our movement if we’re not in such a hurry, for instance we touch the velvet soft leaves of the white poinsettia as we walk to the bathroom. To breathe and pause instead of reacting to a friend’s comment in a rush feels really good. We realize we want to keep doing that.
If our mind is racing as we prepare for bed, we notice the feeling and say “yay for me” for noticing. Maybe we do something specific to slow it down such as take a warm bath or have a cup of tea. We experiment to find what works.
LIGHTNESS: We resolve to take life less seriously (think politics, religion, or government).
If we notice the burden of a stressful thought, we find a way to shake it off and feel lighter. Take a busy day, for instance. Maybe “busy” doesn’t have to equal stressful. Maybe we can simple move from one thing to another.
Trevor Noah’s 2019 book “Born a Crime” caught my eye recently, and I dived in. Already I’m inspired by it, particularly that any book about someone else’s life compared to ours is a good exercise in opening the mind and heart. For sure this is true for me about reading Trevor’s stories from his childhood in South Africa.
He says, “I come from a country where people are more likely to visit sangomas—shamans, traditional healers, pejoratively known as witch doctors—than they are to visit doctors of Western medicine. I come from a country where people have been tried for witchcraft—in a court of law. I’m not talking about the 1700s. I’m talking about five years ago. I remember a man being on trial for striking another person with lightning. That happens a lot in the homelands. There are no tall buildings, few tall trees, nothing between you and the sky, so people get hit by lightning all the time. And when someone gets killed by lightning, everyone knows it’s because somebody used Mother Nature to take out a hit. So if you had a beef with the guy who got killed, someone will accuse you of murder and the police will come knocking.”
See what I mean? He’s got stories. Stories that pry open the vault on how I was raised, what I accept as truth, and so on. Reading his book is good for me. Stories like this remind me how I was raised, what shaped me, and how I could use a little dynamite here and there—under my opinion, beliefs, habits of thinking, and so on.
My attention this year will be on a quality I’d like to experience and express more of: acceptance.
This is the quality of being able to look objectively, without judgment.
It’s probably inner work that only I will notice because acceptance is an inside job. Acceptance has layers and variations and levels, and it’s clear to me that putting time and attention on the subject would be advantageous.
Here are some examples from an average day that I noticed:
- The postal person stuffed a gift package into the mailbox, resulting in damaged goods. I was not happy about this and maybe even did a little yelling. (That’s non-acceptance.)
- After ignoring the nudge to go on my daily walk early, now it’s raining cats and dogs. I roll my eyes, toss my hands in the air. I have a moment. (I’m thinking I made a mistake. Thinking I’m wrong is non-acceptance.)
- I’m writing, and my words head in a clear direction, and then suddenly they take a right turn. If I follow, this means a new title and a complete rewrite, I give a big sigh and go with it. But now the presentation I’m preparing takes the whole day instead of half of it. (I question myself, judge my process. That’s non-acceptance.)
- Receiving news about a family member’s recent move back home points to the fact that I’m truly out of touch with most members of my family. They don’t call me and I don’t call them (except for my mother). Is this okay? Why don’t they talk to me? I feel left out, but then again maybe I keep leaving myself out by not reaching out. (Me and my family have differences of opinion on many things. Again, non-acceptance.)
Personally speaking, I’d like to be aware of any version of non-acceptance in my day, no matter how small. It seems like it would be easier on me to skip the step where I don’t like something, where I rail against it, where I vote “no”—and just head straight to fixing it. First accept, then make a change if needed.
What is profound to me about Trevor’s book so far is how he rolls with unusual behavior in his family, community, and country. I’m thinking maybe I could learn a thing or two from him.
That’s what I’m working on! How about you?
Love and Happy New Year!
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