“If happiness always depends on something expected in the future, we are chasing a will-o’-the-wisp that ever eludes our grasp, until the future, and ourselves vanish…” – Alan Watts
“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
The New Year is a beautiful conceit. Across cultures, it’s a period reserved for expansion of the self. At the drop of a ball, we celebrate pure Possibility, with open hearts and minds. We pretty much all align ourselves accordingly: start on resolutions, compare lists with friends, refresh those horoscope pages…!
We’re happy to. Maybe simply, we have the time.
Being as this is still early January, hopefully most of us live here even now, in an energy of excitement. We still see the bright sparkly Possibility on our horizon. But as the months wear on, what happens to us? Like clockwork, and to varying degrees for all of us, hope starts to settle behind the clouds. Expansion no longer feels encouraged, but becomes obscured in the details of deadlines and paychecks. In fact, we’re cut down by everyday stresses. The mind is weighted by fatal routine. Ultimately by mid-year, we shrug and muddle through, doomed to wait on the next year after all. This song and dance is one of typical human rationalization, but not particularly happiness- not even progress.
I’m arguing that we should be in tune, always, with that great energy of newness. After all the learning is on-going, so should be the reverence. (The resolution, if you will!) But how can we encourage expansion regardless of the date?
It’s going to come down to personal choice, to anything the promotes the internal you, to committing yourself to the search for your power sources, and tossing those pesky blockages. In part, New Year’s celebrations are so fantastic because they are socially accepted as turning points, but otherwise, we live in a culture where you’re sort of on your own. (Too often, we forego attention to our health systems, preferring to interpret self-help as a lonely quest, to be contained in the ‘self’ individually). The self can seem secondary as the calendar continues, as we are reintegrated into whatever systems were there beforehand. It won’t be.
No one is going to ask for resolutions by February, but hang onto them anyway! (Hang on to the people that will ask). See them not as lofty holiday-specific goals, but steps you can take in the present. Don’t forget what you set out to do. Give yourself time. Regard every moment in that New light.
Case in point: Lately I’m living by the phrase ‘Just show up.’ These three words do wonders for someone generally low on energy in winter, and sometimes punctuated by times of high anxiety, especially after the drain-fest that was 2013. It’s no giant revelation, I realize. That’s what I love about it! Deciding to show up is not even deciding a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ once you’re in the room, friends. It’s just about putting yourself in said room. After that, I can’t necessarily tell you what I’ll resolve to do- but at least I’m present! Should I need to decide anything further, I’m already conscious of a bigger picture. Because in the now, I open myself to new information which better informs my choices. And I reduce stress! Thanks to a very small step.
If you hold yourself to no other commitments this year, just show up. It sounds trite, but it works magic, I promise.
Because for everything the New Year symbolizes, it is only a symbol. This year, let’s learn to harness its bright, hopeful energy at all times.