I love the new year. It's a chance to begin again, leave old things behind, look forward to something fresh and new. I've learned that my best resolutions are less about specific habit changes that seem to take me decades to overcome (such as my unbelievable ability to be late everywhere I go and my deep love affair with sweets and potato chips), but rather matters of the heart.
These I take in and nibble on throughout the year. By the end of the year, I find that simply reflecting on them has stirred something in me in an innovative way. If you're tired of going it alone for yet another year of unresolved resolutions, join me for some collective ones we all can try together:
1. Cultivate a loving and hospitable spirit. There are unforgettable people in this world. The ones I remember the most are those who have been kind, open and accepting. They were like life rafts to me when I was struggling to stay afloat in an open sea of overwhelming emotions. They taught me the secret of joy. We can all learn to be more welcoming and loving to those around us.
2. Learn the art of humility. I often want to explain myself, bring up something the other person has done, or deflect blame when someone is angry with me. Lately, I've softly reminded myself, "It would go better if you would just apologize, admit your wrong, let it go."
3. Practice generosity. I had a friend in college who had no meal plan one semester. He ate bread and halfeaten sandwiches classmates snuck out of the cafeteria for him, dined on the Raman noodle more than should be legally allowed, and feastest on the cheapest fast food when he had a few dollars. One day I sat in his car and mentioned feeling hungry. Without hesitation, he shared his hamburger with me. That's generosity.
4. Refuse to live with destructive relationships, habits and thoughts. We all have them, so we may as well admit them, then starve them until they shrivel away. We can plant wholesomeness in our lives through the adventures of learning, spiritual development, and self-acceptance.
5. Take more risks. I once heard that seniors often regret not taking more chances in life. When we don't dream, something inside us dies. When we try to achieve a dream, we feel more alive.
6. Be grateful. On our worst days, we can usually find at least one thing to be thankful for. On better days, the list can go on and on. This is a reminder of our undeserved blessings.
7. Strive to live an authentic, honest life. Being honest with ourselves is harder than we realize. Let's do it anyway. "To thine own self be true."
8. Learn to love yourself.
Loving one's self puts one in the best position to love others well. When we love ourselves, we can put to rest our obsessions with our weight, our income, our status. We can settle the fact that we have as much a right to exist as anyone else, and be more outwardly focused.
9. Deal with old baggage.
Do you really want to keep struggling with the same pain, fear, or anxiety forever? Why not make a small step to move forward this year?
10. Believe that change is possible. In the words of some infamous people, "Keep hope alive...by any means necessary."
Tabi Upton, MA-lpc, is a therapist at New Beginnings Counseling Center. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.