Mindfulness Resolutions: A Decision For A Completely Different Year
December 31, 2014
You cannot change what you refuse to confront. ~John Reyes
Last week I chatted with the attendant at the coffee shop I frequent about the imminent close of 2014. “I can’t wait for this year to be over,” she breathed, shaking her weary head. “I sure hope 2015 will be different.” On the wings of the new year rises hope for change and respite from the previous year’s struggles, and it is from this place many people resolve to accomplish what remains undone. Statistics show, however, that only 8% of some 40% of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve their goals. Some claim they lacked willpower or direction, or even rationalize that their goal was not as important as they previously thought. All of these ideas are tactics that circumvent the larger question: What if the underlying reason for apparent failure has more to do with not understanding why we’ve set the goal in the first place? Why do we want what we say we want?
Many of us are in traction to a course decided unintentionally long ago, and changing the automated nature of this course requires much more than unexamined intentions. If the goal is to lose weight, for instance, what is the driving force behind the desire? To feel better? To become more societally acceptable? To stave off negative feelings and self-concepts? What if the key to success has everything to do with the singular goal of becoming more present? Hidden within the folds of the decision to become present lie the understanding and crucial self-knowledge that could revolutionize our relationship to what we say we want, and uncover what we are truly willing and ready to actualize. Becoming present sounds easy in theory, yet in truth it necessitates ardent volition and vigilant practice, as does the attainment of any worthwhile goal. Cultivating presence is a decision to listen deeply to ourselves, to exercise self-compassion and to expand places within that have long been contracted. Compelling ourselves to action based on comparisons, judgments or external standards sets us up for failure and misunderstanding of why we could not follow through, while approaching ourselves with compassion and honoring our honestly-motivated desires feels good and things that feel good are their own incentive.