A Quick Meditation on the New Year

THIS IS NOT A LIST OF RESOLUTIONS.

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We people seem to nurture the attitude that a new year is a new start, a chance to transform into the person you want to be.  To an extent, this is true. In the new year we can choose to let bygones be bygones and all that other stuff. But I think it’s important to acknowledge that a New Year doesn’t have to be #newyearnewyou.

I can’t say I don’t have a long list of resolutions, because I absolutely do. I also read a great blog post about what resolutions not to make this year here. It made me chuckle because many of mine were on the list.

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While resolutions and positive wishes for the new year are all well intentioned and creating goals for your next stage of life is a valuable practice, sometimes these goals become too grand and the  new year becomes a place of pressure.  It has to start well, end well, and we make a huge long list of priorities for ourselves then immediately feel bad the first time we eat a cookie and abandon our plan to lose weight, be better, slimmer, smarter, etc. etc. Instead of this idea of a new year, and a new you, why not let the new year be a year in which you develop a new acceptance and new understanding of yourself.

There’s a quote from Joan Didion that’s been my mantra for some time now. I’ve been wanting to write about it for a while because it means a lot to me, and I think it’s perfect for the start of a new year.

She says in Slouching Towards Bethlehem, 

“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.”

Whether you love or hate the person you used to be, whether you think you need a “new year, new you” or not, you cannot forget who you’ve been and accept that. This does not mean that you should bask in nostalgia; memory lane can, in fact, be a dead end. It’s the nuance of “nodding terms” that attracts me to this quote and I think it’s important to engage in a process of dismissing the past year and welcoming the new, nodding and waving to both in a sense.tumblr_lpnns3c3Rv1qcpwsc

Maybe we should gently acknowledge what we liked and didn’t like about last year, hold onto that loosely, and welcome the possibility of the next year without expectations or rigid requirements for the progress we must make. I think that’s a whole lot of pressure to put on ourselves so early in January.

Take it easy and nod for the old, smile for the new. The year holds the promise of new experiences, new triumphs, new failures, and most importantly, new lessons.

I hope my thoughts on new years and resolutions are helpful and interesting. Feel free to share some thoughts of your own, and I hope that the new year keeps you happy and healthy and learning new things.

X,

E

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6 comments on “A Quick Meditation on the New Year

  1. Wow this is really great, I love your perspective!

    Why do you think people fall back into old habits so quickly after resolving to make a change?

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    • Thanks Elder! I am so glad you appreciate my post. As for your question, I think, for me at least, that because it’s a new year my list of changes becomes too long and too daunting, so when I fail to accomplish one goal, they all fail. Almost like a domino effect. The initial failure causes a feeling of defeat.

      If you decide you are going to start running one or two times a week that is small enough and specific enough to accomplish, but if you plan to lose weight, read more, join a club (or whatever), be nicer… etc. these goals become to ambiguous and there are so many it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

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      • I think you explained that perfectly, that makes a lot of sense. Specificness is a good thing to factor in while making a goal, and like you said “Lose weight” isn’t a good goal, whereas “run 2 times a week” is much better.

        I don’t necessarily think it’s new years resolutions, but upon reflecting on 2014 I have a lot of things I’ll do differently this year. I want to spend a lot more time with my family, and focus on church.

        What sorts of goals are you working on right now?

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      • Oh yeah, I mean although I wrote a post kind of opposing New Years Resolutions, I still have lots and lots of goals for the new year (hypocrite that I am). And I am certainly not entirely opposed to resolutions at all , I think reflection on the year is truly valuable. I also think that New Years, as a holiday, is a really cool concept.

        My goals for the New year are to unplug way more ( from mainstream social media and not my blog, since blogging is writing after all). I am also aiming to get back to a consistent yoga practice and read more. The other big thing is that I am trying to land my first full time job in the spring! That’s the really big one.

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