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The whole theory of the universe is directed unerringly to one single individual – namely to You. – Walt Whitman
It’s not always easy to keep those New Year’s commitments. Looking at ourselves in depth with a goal towards changing might be something we say we are interested in, but often times our actions speak otherwise.
Think about that gym membership that lapses in late April, that fence in the backyard that will sag for another year, that positive attitude you lose after two weeks of rush hour congestion, and all the rest of those New Years Resolutions that fade. I’m going to suggest something that will actually help.
Don’t make one.
It’s my contention that New Years Resolutions are one of the major stumbling blocks to happiness.
Stay with me.
Happiness can be generally defined as an approach to life, correct? If we define happiness as something external, there’s always bound to be something wrong. Parents shouldn’t make an example to their children that their children are responsible for their happiness, right? The principles to effective happiness aren’t in a classroom or a book. They are different for each of us, but they are the same. Fulfilling ourselves.
I’m not going to turn this article into a work on counseling or self-improvement, or any of that. We all have things we need to do to better ourselves, and I will be the first to admit I have more than most. Lose weight. Find stability. Finish that novel. But the “fad” of making New Years Resolutions undermines our ability to find fulfillment. Why?
Because we start out the year making a bunch of promises we don’t keep. And that, I contend, is a major factor in our lack of inner harmony.
If you’re going to make a resolution this year, make this one: No more promises. Or, if you want to get down to basics: No more lies.
Don’t lie to yourself that you’re going to go the gym for the whole year. Don’t lie to yourself that you are going to spend more time with family and friends. Don’t lie to yourself that you are going to quit smoking or drinking. Don’t lie to yourself you’re going to go back to school. Don’t lie to yourself you’re finally going to volunteer to take meals to shut-ins.
And don’t stop at New Years Eve.
Don’t lie to yourself you’re going to stop getting mad every time someone cuts you off in traffic. Don’t lie to yourself that you’re going to change jobs. Don’t lie to yourself that you’re finally going to organize the garage. Don’t lie to yourself that you’ll do “whatever it is” tomorrow.
If you do this, you will find all sorts of dramatic changes start to take place. If you don’t lie to yourself, you will find it increasingly hard to lie to others, until a lie or a fib simply isn’t even possible. Self honesty is the foundation of honor. If you are honest with yourself why would you want anyone to see you another way? Now you begin to live your life without excuses. You haven’t tried. You haven’t promised. Now what are the things that you really want?
Wait until you have experienced some of the effects of living this New Year without a broken promise before you make a promise to yourself. Just one.
You will feel the moral import take hold of you. And the priority of “the immediate” will suddenly make room for “the necessary”. You’ve only made this one promise. That’s all that’s in front of you. That one thing. If you don’t get around to anything else, it’s because life intrudes and you didn’t have time. But not that.
Gradually, you will find the empowerment from fulfilling your needs. You won’t start out another year with a heavy heart of promises broken and unfulfilled dreams, and you will learn the real price when you lie to yourself first.