It’s the beginning of a new year and time to at least think about some resolutions. If you are like me, there is much ambivalence in establishing a goal that I am unlikely to complete. From studies I have read, only 45% percent of the US population makes resolutions and then only 8% of that group successfully completes them. But taking time to review the past year and define aspirations for the New Year can be beneficial. It’s an opportunity to recognize personal values and identify goals for fulfillment and self- improvement. No big surprise that the number one resolution in the United States is to lose weight, but what if we try to take a new approach to resolutions?
In the past year I have been practicing Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a non-religious meditation developed 35 years ago by Jon Kabat-Zinn. In the past 5 years, 2000 papers have been published in professional journals describing the benefits of MDSR which include decreased anxiety, depression and improved pain management.
Jon Kabit-Zin defines mindfulness as “The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.” In his seminal book Full Catastrophe Living he describes important “attitudinal foundations of mindfulness.” In addition to sitting quietly and breathing there are essential foundations that contribute to the success of mindfulness. For me, it’s the attitudes that help me approach life with more awareness and joy. Here are a few of them and I hope they help you as well in setting resolutions for the New Year.
Non-judging This perspective involves suspending our tendency to evaluate experiences. We can adopt a non-judging approach to our resolution and stop second guessing our resolutions as good, bad, or “not enough”.
Patience This means letting things unfold in their own time. We frequently don’t realize how long it takes for change to occur and that detours along the way are to be expected. For me, it’s a reminder to be kind to myself and not have unrealistic expectations.
Beginner’s Mind This principle refers to the ability to experience the present moment as if it were existing for the first time. So, while I may have made this resolution in the past, I never made the resolution in 2016. I am a different person than I was in the past. This helps me approach my resolution with a new curiosity and freshness.
Trust This refers to the ability to have faith in ourselves and trust our own intuition, even if we have “detours” along the way. It means cultivating the ability to recognize that we know the best way to create and approach our resolutions.
Acceptance This means a willingness to be with things as they are and not wish for things to be different. It’s pretty impossible to change things or move toward a resolution when you are not being honest about the present reality.
Even small successes contribute to better health and well-being. It’s important to recognize that it’s not just meeting the resolution, but the journey towards new discoveries and self-acceptance.