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New Year's Eve
New Year's Resolutions
by Richard B. Patterson, Ph.D.
Question: I have a long history of frustration with New Year's resolutions yet want to do something of spiritual significance around the New Year. Any suggestions?
Many people make extensive plans for self-improvement for the New Year only to give up in frustration and/or shame after a few weeks. The problem often is not with good intentions or even with will power. The problem often is with the goal itself.
For example, let's suppose you make a New Year's resolution to exercise. Many people will then go out the first day, eager to start a new life, then overdo it, wearing themselves out or even injuring themselves. So much for the resolution. The solution is to make a manageable goal and to make interim goals toward your larger goal. For example, if you want to start an exercise program, set a goal of exercising 30 minutes a day by the end of February. Then start off the first week of January with fifteen minutes of a light workout, adding time and intensity to your exercise with each week.
Another useful task before forging into the New Year is to make a gratitude list. How much we take for granted in life! Often we only fully appreciate someone/something until that person or quality is no longer available. Little did I appreciate how much I love the nearby Guadeloupe Mountains until, a few years ago, they were consumed in flames.
To form a gratitude list, first think through your day and note that for which you are grateful. For instance, if I were to think of my day so far, I would be grateful for the safe return of my children from school, for the spectacular sunrise this morning, for a serene church service, and for eggs to make a very acceptable egg burrito. I would also be grateful for my renewed health since I was able to exercise without inducing an asthma attack.
Then think of the people in your life. Whom do you take for granted? Whom would you miss terribly if for some reason you could no longer be with them? Make a list of those names then ask yourself how long it has been (if ever) since you let that person know how grateful you are to have them in your life. If you feel such input would not have meaning to that person, think how much such input would mean if you were on the receiving end.
Gratitude is a wonderful antidote for self-pity and is probably second only to love in terms of spiritual power.
About the Author:
Richard B. P...