January 2, 2020

Why I’m skipping New Year’s Resolutions & committing to my Basic Goodness Instead.

There is something to be said for quiet, goodness, and consistency, as well as daily rituals that ground us and nurture life.

We don’t need to reinvent ourselves every year, and that’s why I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.

It’s curious, our approach to resolutions—as they usually involve creating more structure in our life—which can be good and useful. However, the etymology of the word, resolution, harkens to something different. Resolvere (latin) means to release! A wonderful thing happens when we let go: something rises up to greet us that is more honest, and more sustainable than our willpower—our basic goodness.

This year I’m committing to that.

It always amuses me when, at the end of a year, people are hating on the year like it was some malevolent foe who just ruined their lives. Boo! 2019, you sucked! Only, I remember the same attitude getting passed around at the end of last year: Boo, 2018! I have to think—maybe it’s not the numbers on the calendar that either soar or suck, it’s us, individually and collectively.

2016 was rough, right? One of the most divisive years amongst us that I can remember. The election brought a bunch of gunk to light that drove a split—not only through us as a nation—but amongst friends and family as well, and our choices, as a country, echoed throughout the world. Will 2020 be another year like that? It’s another election year.

This one is just as loaded as that one was—with perhaps even more on the line—as the conditions in the world have deteriorated since 2016:

Gun massacres are at all-time high, with churches and schools being the most likely targets. 

The effects of climate change are vast and devastating. Solastalgia seethes in our psyches. 

Australia is burning—it is estimated that nearly 10 million acres have been destroyed in the brush fires, as well as homes, wildlife habitat, human lives, and the koala population, which has been nearly decimated—with no signs of it stopping. 

The Chinese government is rounding up people and placing them in labor camps, under the guise of providing jobs for an allegedly unemployable population. The reality is that these people are being separated from their families, are actually taking huge wage cuts, and to top it off, there are reports of Nazi-like torture being implemented as part of their reeducation

A new decade arrives and the world’s troubles continue—our personal troubles continue—and our basic goodness remains. And that can be used as a powerful force for change when we allow ourselves to relax into it.

Despite the ever popular New Year’s resolutions craze, now is not actually time to reshape ourselves with aggressive self-improvement. Now is not the time to apply strict, often unsustainable regiments to our minds and bodies—adding endless things to our to-do lists.

Now is the time to make friends with ourselves. Welcome our lost inner orphans and communicate honestly and deeply with our souls, and all the parts of ourselves that we often don’t like. In Buddhadharma, this practice is known as maitri

The parts of us—feelings, desires, and needs—that are deemed less acceptable in our family and societal systems, we often reject. That can be a subtle, insistent suppression, or it can be quite aggressive. You’ve probably heard this before: What I see in you is a reflection of me. This is true for both what we see and what we don’t see—our own blind spots, so to speak. And it is often the parts of ourselves that we don’t like, that we attack in others. 

The aggression that gets enacted internally also gets projected outward onto the world. This is why befriending ourselves—and learning to accept all of our feelings, needs, and desires—is so bloody important! 

Resolutions to better ourselves often come from a subtle place of aggression: I’ll like myself better if I lose 10 or 20 pounds. I’ll feel more worthy if I can manifest more abundance or a new romantic partner. I’ll finally be happy if I can just take that exotic vacation that I have always wanted. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to experience any of these things, it is important to feel into why we want them. 

Do we want to lose weight because it will feel good to move more and express ourselves more healthily through our physical form, or are we trying to fit ourselves into someone else’s standard for what our bodies should look like?

Do we want more prosperity because we love our work? Because offering our gifts is a joy, an honor, our vocation, and we need to pay the bills? Or because we think those numbers on our bank account statement are going to provide us with more than financial security? We think that somehow they will give us emotional security too. 

Do we want partnership with another human being because we love communicating, we love sharing energy, experiences, food, sex, fun, joy, care, and occasionally (yet respectfully) arguing, or because deep down we think another person will be able to assuage our loneliness?

Do we want that dream vacation because we love exploring new places and going on adventures, or because we have bought into the notion that paradise is always somewhere else, not here and now in this tender, human moment?

This moment matters. 

Tune into you for just a moment. Notice your breath. Notice your body and its sensations. Notice your thoughts. Notice your feelings. Notice you. You will not change because a new year has been born. Underneath all the ideas of who you are and what you think you want is something that is truly permanent: your inherent worth and basic goodness. 

What would it be like, I wonder, if we all committed to dissolving the lies, confusions, and adaptations that simply obscure our fundamental nature? We would truly be walking not only into a new decade but a new and more beautiful world, together. 

This year and all the following, let’s relax more. Meditate more. Get into nature more. Move more. Let’s make choices that support life and each other. Let’s shop locally when we can. Boycott big, soulless businesses—which do not care for the human components that make them run—when we can. 

Let’s laugh more, love more, rise in protection of life more. Let’s give ourselves even more to this brokenhearted, beautiful world and watch it—and each other—heal.

May our thoughts, our words, and, most of all, our actions be of benefit. 

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