December used to be my favorite month.
It was the perfect opportunity to put my failures and mistakes behind me and focus on the future. It was my chance to start from zero and make new lifestyle changes that would finally make me happy.
But I was never really happy—or satisfied. The truth is I failed to stick to my resolutions, and waiting for the New Year to come was a toxic cycle that I couldn’t easily terminate.
Eventually I have realized that New Year’s resolutions don’t always work. They may be effective for a while, but we don’t stick to them for long.
I have stopped making New year’s resolutions many years ago, but I have found something better: concepts.
To be more specific, I have found Buddhist—and universal—concepts. Instead of focusing on fixed goals that I might never achieve, I like to focus on concepts and virtues to implement into my daily routine. Buddhist concepts in particular have helped me become a better, happier person (who cares about others too).
Here are 20 from the Dalai Lama to help us enter the New Year gracefully:
“A human being isn’t meant to be some kind of machine designed only for production. No. Human life isn’t just for work…”
2. Worry is useless.
“If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.”
“True compassion is not just an emotional response, but a firm commitment founded on reason. Therefore, a truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change, even if they behave negatively. Through universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems.”
“All I can do is engage with complete sincerity. Then whatever happens, there is no regret.”
“Happiness is a state of mind. With physical comforts if your mind is still in a state of confusion and agitation, it is not happiness. Happiness means calmness of mind.”
6. The power of our mind.
“We are the creators of our own happiness and suffering, for everything originates in the mind.”
“You must not procrastinate. Rather, you should make preparations so that even if you did die tonight, you would have no regrets. If you develop an appreciation for the uncertainty and imminence of death, your sense of the importance of using your time wisely will get stronger and stronger.”
8. The enemies within.
“Anger and hatred are the real enemies that we must confront and defeat, not the ‘enemies’ who appear from time to time in our lives.”
“I have come to the conclusion that whether or not a person is a religious believer does not matter. Far more important is that they be a good human being.”
“It is very rare or almost impossible that an event can be negative from all points of view.”
“According to Buddhist psychology most of our troubles stem from attachment to things that we mistakenly see as permanent.”
“We cannot overcome anger and hatred simply by suppressing them. We need to actively cultivate the antidotes: patience and tolerance.”
13. Love and kindness.
“Love and kindness are the very basis of society. If we lose these feelings, society will face tremendous difficulties; the survival of humanity will be endangered.”
“Without your own effort it is impossible for blessings to come.”
15. Helping others.
“It is necessary to help others, not only in our prayers, but in our daily lives. If we find we cannot help others, the least we can do is to desist from harming them.”
16. The present moment.
“Time passes unhindered. When we make mistakes, we cannot turn the clock back and try again. All we can do is use the present well.”
17. Self-created suffering.
“We often add to our pain and suffering by being overly sensitive, over-reacting to minor things, and sometimes taking things too personally.”
18. Mind-body connection.
“Consider that not only do negative thoughts and emotions destroy our experience of peace, they also undermine our health.”
“We must cultivate a universal responsibility toward each other and extend it to the planet that we have to share.”
20. A ripple effect.
“If you want to change the world, first try to improve and bring about change within yourself. That will help change your family. From there it just gets bigger and bigger. Everything we do has some effect, some impact.”