Friday, December 28, 2012

Seven New Year's Resolutions That Can Change Your Life

Here are seven Zen-inspired New Year's resolutions that can potentially change your life for the better: 
  1. Turn off the TV. Don't be one of those lonely, confused, manipulated people who waste their free time watching TV instead of living. Although your life may not presently be as exciting as the flashing images and stories on TV, it is real, it is yours, and you have the power--through sustained effort--to make it far more interesting than the crap on TV. This year, unplug from the matrix and figure out how to take advantage of this life. Perhaps, with the time freed up from the TV, you can try one of these other resolutions...
  2. Meditate every day. As little as 5 minutes of daily meditation has been shown to change the structure of the brain, enhance performance, and improve mood.
  3. Read about the meaning of life. I won't say who or what to read, as long as it is about ethics, philosophy, religion, or spirituality. Reading other people's perspectives can reawaken your interest in matters that you might have written off in your jaded teenage years, and that may be the very issues you are subconsciously trying to address through other outlets.
  4. Help someone in a personally meaningful way. If you have a particular interest or talent, see if there is an opportunity to help someone else with a similar interest to develop their own talents.
  5. Exercise and eat vegetables. These two things will make you feel good. If you're already exercising and eating vegetables, keep it up!
  6. Abstain from alcohol and tobacco. In terms of health, alcohol and tobacco are purely destructive. However, hardly anyone ever quits because of their health alone. The underlying motive for drinking and smoking has to be explored and ultimately satisfied through some other means in order to make abstention permanent. The important thing to realize is that every day there is something to be gained from quitting. It's also beneficial for some people to simply begin reducing the amount used as they make an effort to understand what drives the craving.
  7. Practice compassion. This is open to interpretation, but the general idea is to maintain an open mind toward other people so that their emotions move your own. Not only is this a good way to build relationships, but the side effects of practicing compassion--less judgment, less defensiveness, less hostility--will improve how you view yourself. If you are very self-critical, practicing compassion for others will prepare you to accept yourself. The more you can accept yourself--viewing your strengths and weaknesses objectively--the better you can steer a path in life that you find satisfying.

3 comments:

  1. Another great blog post! Much to "snack on here." I recently read a quote that's relevant to No. 4. I've been thinking a lot about helping and serving others, and how I can approach it differently:

    “Many times when we help we do not really serve. . . . Serving is also different from fixing. One of the pioneers of the Human Potential Movement, Abraham Maslow, said, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.' Seeing yourself as a fixer may cause you to see brokenness everywhere, to sit in judgment of life itself. When we fix others, we may not see their hidden wholeness or trust the integrity of the life in them. Fixers trust their own expertise. When we serve, we see the unborn wholeness in others; we collaborate with it and strengthen it. Others may then be able to see their wholeness for themselves for the first time.”

    ~Rachel Naomi Remen; one of the earliest pioneers in the mind/body holistic health movement and the first to recognize the role of the spirit in health and the recovery from illness

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    1. True, true. I've been thinking recently that helping or serving should not be one time exchanges so much as doorways to new relationships. If the relationship is a developing friendship rather than a quick, one time interaction for the "fixing" of perceived problems, then maybe there's a chance of actually doing some good.

      It should also be a 2 way street... All those things that you see in the other person that need to be "fixed" might actually be reflections of your own judgments or issues, and developing a real friendship with the person you're trying to help may actually help you grow out of those thoughts.

      BTW, 'Much to "snack on here." ' made me LOL.

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    2. Glad it got a laugh out of you! Agreed! I've been thinking about that too. Trying to serve more on a one-on-one basis, where both parties develop and grow, versus providing a service in group situations.

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