It’s no coincidence that the new calendar year occurs just after the winter solstice, after the longest day of the year has come and gone, and a dormant period is set into motion.
It’s natural to revisit in the mind and heart the pivotal events that happened over the course of the preceding year—and to prepare for what adventures lie ahead.
The tradition of New Year’s Resolutions has its roots in Babylonian history and Roman mythology, particularly the statue Janus, which sits on the Ponte Fabricio on the Tiber river in Italy. Janus, the god with two faces—one looking backward and one looking forward—was believed to bring good fortune when touched prior to crossing the bridge. But since the time of Julius Caesar, the legend has gradually morphed into what are now called “resolutions.”
Although the intention to improve upon the self has its merit—both individually and as a member of the collective community, the tradition of resolutions is vastly outdated.
We live in a modern world with modern ideas and challenges and what has deep roots in tradition may not best serve an evolving community. We’re also more aware of our own growing consciousness than we have been ever before in history, and that requires a new approach.
1) The term “resolution” is inherently finite.
It implies that at some point in time, a “problem” has existed and that is has since been solved. Merriam Webster defines “resolution” as “the act or process of resolving” something.
The root word of resolution—resolve—in its many forms means to split up, break up or separate, to make clear, reduce by analysis, or deal with successfully. Its synonyms include: choose, conclude, determine, name, decide and settle upon.
A resolution is an end result; however, most of us are steeped in phases of learning or personal growth. At every stage of our emotional, spiritual, and psychological development we are perfect exactly as we are, at all times. The moment we “settle upon” something, we stop growing. Stagnation leads to boredom—and unhappiness.
2) Resolutions are often cast around shame-based thinking.
We’re culturally attuned to accept shame-based thinking as the “norm.” From birth through adulthood we’re bombarded by “shoulds” from family and friends, we’re pummeled with advertising nearly everywhere we go, and keeping up with the Joneses has been the American way.
Shame-based thinking, and the resolutions that come from this perspective, can never be for our highest good because they don’t originate from a place of authenticity. They are short-lived. Our truest desires are not bound by shame or degradation, but, rather, they spring from a place of love and harmony, and, therefore, can be long lasting.
3) The subconscious mind is a tricky thing.
The ways in which we use language have the power the shape the ways in which we think. Mainstream science, particularly neuroscience, now acknowledges that thoughts impact reality. It’s estimated that the subconscious mind is responsible for 90 percent or more of the choices we make, the thoughts we think, and the ways in which we operate in the world.
Syntax, then, lends itself to outcome—realized or not. Creating statements such as “I’ll lose five pounds,” or “I’ll quit smoking” actually anchors those very things into the subconscious mind—and makes their opposites a reality.
Instead, statements such as “I love feeling great in all my clothes,” or “I love how it feels to take a brisk walk with smoke-free lungs” are more apt to circumnavigate the subconscious mind and provide a congruent, positive outcome.
(Also, see number one. We really are perfect exactly as we are, at all times.)
Acknowledging that life is a process of evolution is important to creating a fully present, fully engaged experience. Leading from a place of authentic desire and peace—and the feeling of excitement that comes from an empowered, conscious choice will create lasting results—for 2014 and beyond.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman