During the Season Holidays, many of us tend to reflect on what has worked and hasn’t worked for us in the past year, making new resolutions about what we want to do differently in the future, that can improve our lives. Some of us will have concrete decisions, such as the vow to eat healthier, lose weight or save money. Others will decide to look for a new job, ask for a promotion or earn more money. The holidays give us a break in time that allows us to reflect on what is it that we truly desire for the New Year. In this article I will outline ten ideas for New Year resolutions that are a bit different and less concrete but that might be worth a try:
1. Allow yourself to think about what really matters
As an exercise, imagine you are twenty years old and on the verge of choosing a career: what are your dreams and desires? What would you like to do? What truly matters to you? Be aware that regardless of age, we are always changing. We grow throughout all our lives, so it is very important to stop once in a while by quietly engaging in exercises of self-examination and exploration with a kind heart towards ourselves. Use the break to reflect on who you are. Life is a continuous journey of discovery, and that implies that we change as well. Find a quiet room in your home where you will not be interrupted, or go for a silent walk in nature just to be with yourself. You can also learn how to meditate, trying to connect to a space of stillness inside you. Then, be bold to try new things in accordance to the new insights brought to you by stillness, but allow yourself to fail at them.
2. Accept the waves of life
Everybody knows that life consists of many challenges, obstacles and experiments. But… maybe we can take a look at this through a different lens. Imagine life as a river, always in movement, and you, as a part of that river. Don’t fight against the current because you’ll just wear yourself out. Just try to take life and its waves as they come. Know yourself, your body and your soul, and know the river with acceptance. By developing a deep knowledge of yourself you might start paying attention to coincidences. Maybe you will find that actually there’s a door that is standing wide open for you and another that you’re trying to get through by knocking it down. Ponder that maybe it’s the best to take the door that’s already open for you. Go with the flow of the river.
3. Assume change will come
Life is about change; don’t fight it and just go with it. What is important is to learn from mistakes and to grow. Another way to put it is to become aware of what goes on in your inner world. Gaining awareness about yourself will make you more aware and understanding of others as well. Let go of things you can’t change. Sometimes to change might seem painful, but realize that you’ll be okay if you just hang on and accept what is happening, as life is always in transit, moving as river in which you are navigating.
4. Keep your plans flexible
It’s wise to have an idea of things you want to accomplish. To have plans and to visualize them in your mind works, as it helps you come up with a clear picture of what you want, which is sometimes the hardest thing. But remember to be flexible and willing to change your plans. And if your plans don’t go the way you want, don’t waste time blaming yourself. Focus on what you can transform and the processes through which you can achieve your reformulated projects. There is a famous ancient law that is called: “The Law of Detachment” that means that even though it is OK and good to make plans, we should not be too attached to our desires and plans, as attachment might awaken strong doses of pressure, expectation and anxiety. Practice “passionate” detachment (which might seem like a contradiction) by imagining yourself writing your dreams on a piece of paper that you put into a bottle and then throw into the sea. You have written your plan, but by throwing it into the ocean, you let the Universe take care of the details, and you become detached from the outcome.
5. Challenge yourself by thinking of time as an infinite resource
Who hasn’t heard the many times repeated mantras of: “you only live once” or “nothing lasts forever” and “life goes by extremely fast”. Well, is it really like this? Actually it is possible to see life and time from a different perspective. What if one tries to move beyond one’s own ego body, and begin identifying with something else: with our source, our soul. Would it be possible to consider for a moment that eternity could be possible? What would change? And how to reach and become in touch with your soul? Did you know that the sanskrit word “Namasté”, that we so commonly pronounce by the end of a Yoga class, means that we salute the divine that exists within each one of us? Try to reach that divine portion of your soul. Consider the thought that we are not just humans, but eternal spirits having a transitory human experience.
6. Describe Life with a variety of adjectives
Some people say: “Life is hard”. The idea that lies beyond this assumption is that because life is super hard it will be the toughest teacher you will ever have. Others advice you to savor the good moments in life because you’ll need those memories to reflect back on when the bad times come. But what if we move away from a dualistic way to interpret what happens to us in life, by using more adjectives? Instead of describing the situations that occur in our life using words such as “good” versus “bad”, “beautiful” versus “ugly”, “hard” versus “easy”, we can use various adjectives that detail our experiences in life. What will happen is that maybe you will see that in reality things are a bit more nuanced. A bad job experience or a relationship that went sour, were actually a mix of various things, that hold something valuable to teach us. Nature can teach us valuable lessons here too: Consider how a flower doesn’t struggle to live thinking how “hard” life is: it just grows and blossoms in beauty. Could we try to live in an effortless way, by appreciating thoughtfully what happens to us without strong attachments and expectations about others and ourselves?
7. Learn about how to improve your personal finances
Instead of worrying about money or blaming your country or the economical crisis as the responsible for your financial life, learn how to budget and manage your money. Simple ideas are to learn how to use your credit wisely and to live within your means, training yourself to spare every month a little bit. A good goal is to have enough savings to be able to live without a job for at least six months. Buy quality items you can keep for a long time, avoiding cheap things that break easily, and train yourself to not give in to quick desires. Regardless of age, always prioritize investments that improve your education, your personal development, your health and your relationships to others.
8. Connect with your young past self throughout all your life
Probably we were all taught that when experiencing childhood and youth we were enjoying the most beautiful times of our lives. We learned to cherish youth as much as possible because it wouldn’t last forever and would go away fast. Well, actually, to be young is a question of spirit and to be in touch with your youthful self is very empowering. We can connect and awaken our own youthful, creative energy, by playing with children frequently, or dialoguing with young people. Ask young people about their dreams and experiences in a non-judgmental way. And next year, experiment to be carefree as you used to be during childhood, by training yourself to stop worrying so much.
9. Make Your Health a Priority
Give your body the best treatment it deserves. Start eating better and exercising. If you have an hard time understanding what is good or bad food for you, pay attention to your body. Your body is the best barometer of what truly nurtures you. Realize what type of feelings you experience in your body when eating certain types of foods. Help yourself by preparing your environment in such a way that healthy choices are easy: scatter little plates with fruits, nuts and seeds, in your office and kitchen, so you make easy quick choices of eating properly whenever hungry. Think of health as a caring act towards yourself. Start developing a healthier lifestyle and soon it will become habit. Take care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.
10. Look at Love as a practice, an activity
Every one says and knows that love is all that really matters in the end. Love is the most “googled” word and this is quite meaningful. But let’s be honest; are we truly engaging in the activity of love? What if we look at love as a process, a practice? First, look at yourself. Do you truly practice love towards yourself? If so, why are you so harsh on you whenever you make a mistake? I challenge you to try acting differently by giving yourself massive doses of understanding. Move forward from your own past mistakes and whenever you find yourself misbehaving, simply become aware of that. Never forget that you were doing the best you could, so it’s OK to fail. At the same time, practice being patient, empathetic, understanding, caring and gentle with other people. If you encounter harsh words, concentrate on what your body experiences: is it a sudden rush of blood, a shrinking heart? Stay there, observing those feelings, until they go away, and practice not answering back in anger. Be truly interested about the people you meet by asking them questions, and train yourself to truly listen to them attentively. People usually like to talk about themselves and questions are a great way to get conversations going. Never give advice when not asked for it. Love people for who they are, just as they are, and realize that everyone is a work in progress, just as you are. Life is a journey, and happiness is not a destination to arrive at, but a way of living. Love is a part of life, and we can look at it as a process, an activity. Try to practice it on a daily basis by transforming any encounter you have into a relationship tainted with love.
Maria Fonseca is the Editor and Infographic Artist for IntelligentHQ. She is also a thought leader writing about social innovation, sharing economy, social business, and the commons. Aside her work for IntelligentHQ, Maria Fonseca is a visual artist and filmmaker that has exhibited widely in international events such as Manifesta 5, Sao Paulo Biennial, Photo Espana, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Joshibi University and many others. She concluded her PhD on essayistic filmmaking , taken at University of Westminster in London and is preparing her post doc that will explore the links between creativity and the sharing economy.