"All serious daring starts from within." -- Eudora Welty
So it's pretty clear that all the people "in the know" seem to think that New Year's resolutions don't work. Deepak Chopra, the popular alternative self-help author, when asked if he thought there was a way for people to make their resolutions stick, said, "Yes, if they go beyond motivation and find true inspiration," and then he says that it is about going to a deeper level which involves healthy self-reflection and he encourages us to reframe it:
"So instead of saying, I'm going to have all this willpower, and I'm going to try so hard, which is all mental fatigue, reflective self-inquiry spontaneously leads to change."
I don't know about the "spontaneously" part, as I find significant changes sometimes take some time to actually occur, but I couldn't agree more with the idea that it's the "inner work" that is the key to transformation. So I say if you do decide this new year to draw a line in the sand in regards to an area of your life or behavior -- do some honest self-reflection, and have it be about something that matters. Chopra also says:
If you look at all the research on happiness, it shows the following things: Happy people always look for opportunities where others are seeing crisis. Happy people have meaning and purpose in their life. Happy people are creative, and happy people know how to make other people happy.
Huh. Happy people make other people happy. Contagious in a way. I like that. This year I am going to purposefully live happy and write a lot more often with the focus of just making other people happy. There's my first goal for 2012.
As I contemplated what it is about myself I want to see, finally, for God's sake, transformed, or what I want to put at the top of my list to stop doing, or start doing this new year -- a thought suddenly comes to me... Am I lovable just as I am, right now, this very moment? I'm not sure. And that feels a bit heartbreaking. When I lose sight of anything good in myself, I think I look to those I am closest to, to assure me that I am, indeed, lovable just as I am. As I heard someone say recently when they were asked how they found their way back from a life-threatening eating disorder, "It was the love I found. Love saves you. Love heals you." But the truth is, I find that sometimes those I love most make me feel that l am worth loving just as I am, and sometimes, not so much.
I guess that has to do with the fact that familiarity does breed contempt (ouch) and also, in perhaps a good way, we tend to want those we love the most to stop sabotaging themselves year after year, or have the courage to step out and take that chance, or face the unfaceable. We believe in them enough to push them, but sometimes that can feel like we need to change before we get their approval. That's when unconditional love doesn't feel very unconditional. I KNOW I have to stand on my own two feet and find my own equilibrium, but isn't it nice to see it reflected now and then in the eyes of someone who knows all of you -- the good, the bad and the ugly? The kind of love that you see displayed here and there -- and it feels like you've been a witness to something sacred. I believe love like that is sacred. That's the kind of love that interests me as I face another year with a new set of daunting digits.
2012 is the year of the Water Dragon in the Chinese calendar, and just the little bit I've read about it, it sounds like it might be a bit of a wild ride. Three words I heard that describe the dragon are charismatic, tempestuous, and lucky. Hmmm, lucky sounds pretty good about now. Dragons are non-conformists and determined, but supposedly honest and straightforward. All of that would be refreshing for our global, financial and personal pictures... I would imagine. I laughed out loud when I read that dragons don't suffer fools gladly. Bring it on I say, let's collectively be done with fools all the way around.
It also said that the year of the dragon is traditionally associated with new beginnings and good fortune. Somebody say hallelujah! Then it mentioned that the Water Dragon, the liquid component, is predicted to calm the usually tempestuous dragon nature, and will give a "thoughtful perspective to the plight of the less fortunate." I certainly hope so. I think our collective selfishness and narcissism is doing us in, in every area of our lives, and no doubt in our world at large. I noticed that interesting, innovative, gutsy people were born in the Year of the Dragon, they include -- Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, Sigmund Freud, and John Lennon. Let's make them proud, and from our government on down to our own back yards, let's intentionally live our lives with boldness and sacrifice and creativity in 2012.