We often think of the page turning on the calendar, and a New Year beginning, as a time to make resolutions. We set our sights on a brand new year and we decide that this is the time we are going to change whatever it is we feel we need to change. We are going to finally shed that weight, begin an exercise program, keep in better touch with friends and family . . . the list goes on and on. Wherever we determine that we have shortcomings, we are going to finally, once and for all, fix them. We are determined, we have a plan and we are going to make it happen. Of course, it often doesn’t happen. Our good intentions last a day or a week but they don’t often stick or really make a difference.
I confess that I am not one of those people who makes resolutions. I am more the “decide to do it and do it (or not do it)” person rather than putting a date out there as a landmark. But I do find that the beginning of a new year gives me an opportunity to think about the things I want to focus on in the coming year. I wouldn’t call them resolutions, rather I think of them as commitments, commitments that I make to myself and, I hope, to those around me.
Perspective: It is so easy for each of us to miss the forest and see only the trees. We exist in the reality of the moment and we react that way. If we can pause and try to “zoom out” a bit, we have the opportunity to see how others might see something and it can open our eyes and our minds. In the world we live in today, we are all entrenched in the sides we have taken on so many issues. The ability to “agree to disagree” has vanished and, rather than discuss, we argue and there is neither resolution nor respect for the other’s viewpoint. There are some issues on which each of us is intractable but there are many others where it would benefit us to see that there are always shades of gray in our black and white existence.
Inclusivity: When we talk about diversity, I always say the same thing. My parents taught me that “a person is a person is a person” and I believe those words fully. But my use of the word inclusivity for the coming year is a bit different than that. It is my intent to build connections more broadly and to take the time to do that mindfully. We live busy lives and frequently encounter large numbers of people every day. While I unfailingly say hi and ask how someone is, I want to make more effort to listen to the answer, to ask a follow-up question. In a building like the one in which I work, with lots of staff and many older adults, it will take an effort to “slow my roll” and have an interaction that is less surface and has more enduring value.
Fun: We live in a serious world and we do serious work. We face serious problems and we take serious actions. All that is true. But we cannot always take ourselves so seriously. Without laughter, joy, and opportunities to be light-hearted, we lose some of the key, and critical, aspects of our life and our health. Physically, mentally and emotionally, we all need release, we all need to find and have fun. It lightens our load, it lifts us, it enhances relationships and it makes life more bearable. Finding a moment for fun in our everyday life—time well spent.
Self-Care: The most basic of principles is the one that we most often neglect. Our health, our emotional wellbeing, our mental state—all deserve our attention. Putting ourselves at the top of the list, understanding and focusing on what we need is vital. Taking the time to be mindful, to be grateful, to connect with our inner beings can change the way we see the world, interact with others and face challenges. Taking care of our physical health will enable us to honor our commitments to ourselves and others.
Compassion: Using our hearts to guide us is not our conditioned response. We invoke logic and are filled with objections and reasons “why not.” If we let our hearts open and lead, we might open a world of greater possibilities and of a life filled with more light and hope and peace.
May the New Year bring each of us peace, health and joy.