Tis the season for resolutions. People are looking back over 2016 and deciding what they would like to change or how they would like their lives to be different by the time 2017 comes to an end. For some, this can be like an awakening, an uplifting and exciting time. For others, it is full of regret, disappointment, and negativity as they take stock of their current circumstances and perhaps the downslide since the last new year’s celebrations.
Don’t get me wrong, some people need a wake-up call. Destructive behavior to oneself or others should be the object of a serious 180-degree effort. But too often the self-reflection necessary in making resolutions involves unnecessary negativity. People look at their past or themselves harshly, and are often blue this time of year. This is ideal for capitalism and our secular religion of consumerism. Marketing tactics prey on those feeling down, as they make impossible promises of improved self-image, confidence, or attractiveness to others. When one’s efforts are pinned on a product or a magic quick-fix, it is superficial and unlikely to be successful.
A better approach may be to root resolutions not in regret but in gratitude. First expressing thanks for what you’ve been accomplished in the past year, no matter how small. Or at least be thankful for making it through if it was an especially tough year! And only then determine areas in life you would like to improve or explore further, or identify existing circumstances you would like to change. This encourages self-reliance to help one avoid gimmicks and false promises. Furthermore, it fosters inner-strength making resolutions more likely to succeed.
Don’t look back with disappointment, but look around at where you are with gratitude. Look forward to the coming year with hope, perseverance, and excitement for all the joy and opportunity this year has to offer. There will always be stumbling blocks, but remember the goal is not to be the best, but better than you were before.
I would love to hear about your resolutions, so please comment! Specifically, how you came to choose them and how you plan to keep them as the year progresses. Happy 2017!