As the clock struck midnight, did you make a resolution? Or have you sworn the tradition off because you know they stick as well as cream eye shadow on a hot humid day? The start of the New Year is a great motivator for change, fostering a “new you”. But too often the intended change is superficial or made for the wrong reason. Instead, resolutions that focus on awareness promote lasting personal growth and wellbeing.
Here is my list of the top 5 resolutions to make instead of hitting the gym or throwing away all the carbs in your cupboards.
1) Practice Detachment
Fame or Self: Which matters more? Self or Wealth: Which is more precious? Gain or Loss: Which is more painful? He who is attached to things will suffer much. He who saves will suffer heavy loss. A contented man is rarely disappointed. He who knows when to stop does not find himself in trouble. He will stay forever safe. -Tao Te Ching
Detachment is an important concept in spiritual teachings and awareness. In North America, we are driven by our desires. We desire the white picket fence; we want the latest gadget; we lust for the tall, dark and handsome; and we strive for the bikini body. These desires perpetuate like a hamster on a wheel, creating worry, restlessness and internal struggle. Detachment is the answer. As a process, detachment involves letting go of desires and creating a heightened sense of acceptance just as things are. When you are no longer attached to an outcome, (or a person, place or thing), you find fulfillment in the moment and in your life.
2) Forgive Yourself
You forgave your neighbor for cutting your hedge, but have you forgiven yourself for serving take-out to your children? Not forgiving ourselves leads to guilt. Guilt that we haven’t used the treadmill in the basement or guilt we treated our ex poorly. Guilt is the Lucifer of personal growth and contentment. We may think that feeling guilty is our penance; in actuality, guilt prevents us from actively finding a resolution.
3) Be Grateful
Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others – Cicero
Gratitude is the emotional expression of appreciation for what is around us. Studies show that gratitude increases wellbeing, happiness, empathy, and energy. But with our busy lives, we fail to look around and appreciate what we have. When we wake on the wrong side of the bed, gratitude has the power to create optimism. Take a moment everyday to identify at least 3 things you are grateful for. As this becomes habit, you start to see the world differently—instead of traffic jams and nylon snags you see abundance and positivity.
4) Listen to your body
We feel exhausted but we finish watching the movie; we feel bloated, but we eat more chips; we feel anxious and we drink more coffee. We have become increasingly disconnected from our bodies that we fail to recognize the signs that guide our health. Instead we behave in ways that further hinder our wellbeing (more coffee anyone?). Taking a moment to connect with how our body can guide our healthy choices and actions. If one is tired, go to sleep; if one is hungry, eat a well-balanced meal; and if one is anxious, breathe deeply.
5) Love Yourself
To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. -Thich Nhat Hanh
All the resolutions above are intimately tied to loving oneself. Without loving oneself, we allow guilt, want, and distractions to take over. Throughout life, our experiences and disappointments shape our negative self-talk. It penetrates every corner of our subconscious and unknowingly causes behavior that negatively impacts our growth and happiness. We develop “I cant’s” and “I’m not worthy”. And instead of being in a loving and respectful relationship with oneself, we focus on our partner or our job or that piece of cheesecake. To shift negative self-talk, start journaling. Write any negative self-talk, such as “I am not good at this job”, “my husband doesn’t find me attractive” and beside each phrase, write 3 reasons why this is not true. The same negative self-talk may occur repeatedly, but at the same time positive affirmations will develop that quickly dispel them.
New years resolutions carry the best intentions, but they do not always work. Especially when personal growth and awareness is neglected. As the New Year signals a new start, allow the new you to come from within.