Yes or No to New Year’s Resolutions?

It’s again the jolly time of the year. The time when we take a step back, enjoy the Christmas joy and reflect on everything around us. Hopefully we all take a moment to be grateful for the wonderful people around us – those who crossed our path year, those who inspired us and those who taught us  a lesson. Another moment to reflect on what we have achieved, the goals we met and all the skills we developed.

It’s all in the mind, whether you decide to look positively at all the great things last year has brought, or focus on the things you failed at. It’s not just a pessimist/optimist battle, but more about how deep you dig in yourself and how aware you are of what each scar signifies.

Each year, we hear around “I will start exercising from January” or “I will try that new diet from Monday”, but how many of us actually keep up with these promises? Why start in January or next week, when we can start today? So many of our promises to ourselves involve radical changes, which are difficult to maintain in the long run. Why not try with small steps, celebrating each improvement and being realistic with our goals?

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I have to admit it, I am making new year’s resolutions every year. I think it is useful to reflect on what you want to achieve, and check them up a couple of times per year. I don’t assume they will come true on January 1st. Changing one’s lifestyle is a continuous process, and I believe that it is important to focus on real, needed and sustainable changes. Losing 3 kg to fit in a dress at a wedding next month is a small and not so sustainable goal. Sure, it’s possible, but it doesn’t bring longtime happiness (except feeling good about the great pictures in that dress).

I prefer goals related to cooking more healthy meals and eating out less. This doesn’t mean I will never eat a pizza again. This means that I am aware that I could make some improvements in this department, and I will try my best in the future. I also had a goal of being able to do Scorpion pose last year. It didn’t happen yet, but it’s not the end of the world. Everything is a journey, and as long as we’re moving forward, things will be fine. One day, I will get there. And if not, I will still benefit from other things I learn on my way.

Next to saving more money or changing the car, inner resolutions are something we should look more into. They are some sort of reality-check, showing us how we perceive ourselves and whom we would like to become. It’s not easy, and it can be discouraging for some, but they are needed in order to understand ourselves better. We can say “I will be more patient”, but if we don’t understand what makes us lose our patience in the first place, what is the point?

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How to understand yourself better?

Often, new year’s resolutions are related to things we wished we did or skills we wished we had. We tend to like and admire in others the qualities we desire for ourselves. Think about what you admire the most in your significant other, or in your closest friends. Is it that they are very detailed-oriented, or great at presentation skills? Maybe a friend always knows exactly the best thing to say in a difficult situation, or one is very fast at making decisions.

The next step is understanding that we cannot all be the same, and we cannot all be great at the same things. Yes, many things can be trained, and you have big chances of improving by asking advice from those who master it and then practicing. However, don’t be discouraged if you will not be the best at all those things, since it’s not humanly possible to excel in everything.

Try to focus on your strengths. They are what make you special. Those are the things you do with ease, and those others admire you for. Maybe you are great at organizing or you speak 4 foreign languages. Well, instead of focusing on what else you can learn, think about how to develop those skills even further, develop a career or a hobby out of them, or help others. This will bring you more satisfaction and self-confidence.

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Best Tricks for Keeping your Resolutions

Be yourself when stating your resolutions! There are common things people wish for, since we are programmed by sociecty to believe this is what we have to do. Even if everybody is aiming to set more aside in their pension account, maybe it’s not what would make you the happiest at this point in your life. Yes, of course it’s useful and needed. But if it’s the last year you can timewise afford to travel the world and discover new cultures, why not starting saving next year? Your reality is different than others’, so set resolutions that fit what you want to do with your life.

Create mini-goals. It is difficult to achieve major changes on the spot, so make sure to split your goals into smaller, achievable ones, that would make you see the progress. Keep track of them and reward yourself everytime a step forward is made.

Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s unrealistic to believe that all your new year resolutions will come true. You will definitely make improvements in the areas you want to, but, like mentioned above, it is a continuous process. Be happy and grateful for what you managed to achieve. And if you fail,  at least you have learned a lot in the process and will take it forward in the future.

Autumn and gratitude

End of October always brings the most beautiful autumn days. It’s still warm enough to enjoy long walks in the park, and the last sunny days offer a wonderful view on the fallen leaves. For me, autumn is the season of reflection and inner journeys.autumn on its wayAutumn is associated with melancholy. I would put much more positive on what autumn makes me feel, as it’s the time to take a step back, reflect on everything, from the adventurous summer to all that was learned this year. Winter is coming, Christmas and a whole new year, which means new beginnings and hope.

The fallen leaves in autumn are a sign of the end of a cycle. But it is not something negative. We all know they will be alright. Seasons change, nature goes to sleep, but there’s nothing sad about that. Everyone knows that once spring comes, everything will blossom again. And this is the miracle of life.

Take this lesson from autumn and bring it into your present. Nothing lasts forever, not the grey days and not the strong winds. Even when you’re down, overwhelmed by storms or snow, the belief in the warmth of that very first ray of sun keeps you going.

On this same page, I dreamt last week about a grey chimpanzee that told me:

“Don’t worry, as long as our hearts are beating, everything is going to be alright.”

WisechimpanzeeI was told this is a pretty wise chimpanzee, and my dreams are strangely insightful. But the bottom line is that we are all going to make it. It sounds cliché, believe me, I know it. But I also know that after the rain comes good weather, like in a book I used to read regularly when I was young (“Après la pluie, le beau temps”, Comtesse de Ségur)

One important lesson yoga taught me is gratitude. People tend to get stuck in their problems, fear or routines, and forget to be grateful about everything that they have. This is, in my opinion, one of the biggest issues of our society. We are programmed to be in the search of the perfect life, with a happy family, a good career, enough money for all the comfort we can imagine, and, on top of everything, exciting adventures everyday. What happened with simplicity? What happened with the beauty of holding somebody’s hand? What happened with feeling grateful for small things, such as being healthy?

I once read an interesting article, stating that people rarely think about health, unless it is in danger. We do not notice how well things are going for us, unless we start feeling bad – that is when health becomes important. What if we tried a small change of perspective? Stopping sometimes to think how nice this day is, because we are full of energy, capable of carrying out with our daily tasks? We have food on our table, and a shelter on our head. These ‘basic needs’ Maslow would say are so often taken for granted. But they offer our support system, and we should really appreciate what we have. These are small sources of happiness, and acknowledging them would improve our quality of life.

Are you upset you cannot afford eating fish twice a week, and you don’t often have time to prepare pancakes for breakfast? What about imagining for a second eating just bread with butter every day? Terrible, no? This lack of variety. Unimaginable. What about imagining eating a piece of bread once in a day? … Are you happy with your life already?

Autumn is the season of reflection. Reflect on who you are. On what makes you happy and what makes you sad. If it makes you sad, have you stopped and tried to understand why you are sad? What makes you tick? Go deeper into your inner world, do it today, and try to know yourself better. And then be happy for the opportunity we have to do this inner journey. Cause it’s one of the miracles of being human.