Around the new year, there is always the discussion of resolutions and change. People set intentions and try, at least for a brief period of time, to be the best version of themselves possible. I took a class recently with Nina Wise, a local meditation teacher, who said that she doesn’t bother with resolutions anymore because she felt like they had a built-in element of self loathing. The idea that we need to change something doesn’t seem inherently like self loathing to me, but I understand how, for some people, making and breaking the same resolutions year after year might contribute to a lack of trust in themselves.
She suggested choosing a theme for the year, things like health, honesty, work or family. Rather than setting goals that include specific elements, having a theme for the year just makes you more conscious of one aspect of your life. For example, choosing family as a theme may mean that you are more inclined to arrange gatherings, are kinder to your relatives, or more mindful of the small gestures that matter like phone calls and notes to check in. If your theme is health maybe it is more yoga and meditation, but also more time with friends who make you laugh, more massages and sleep. Health doesn’t have to mean that you are in the gym three times a week for the month of January and never again. Health as a theme means taking care of yourself as a whole person, and over a year that could be life changing.
She also spoke about honesty as a theme which I loved. She suggested developing the habit of asking yourself whether or not your actions support your theme. In the case of honesty, the questions look something like this:
Is this not true and not helpful? Don’t say it….
Is this not true but helpful? Don’t say it..
Is this true but not helpful? Don’t say it…
Is this true and helpful? Wait for the right time, and say it
The idea of being this mindful of speech is exciting to me. I know that I often speak out of habit, or boredom, or nervousness. It is a discipline for me to hold a space in loving silence, a discipline that I have worked hard to develop. My nature leans more toward giggly chattiness rather than thoughtful silence. I hope that this year I will learn how to wait for the right time to offer advice, or to collude with a friend. I hope that my words will have more power if they are chosen with greater care. Mostly, I just hope that I am helpful.