There are many traditions surrounding New Year’s Day. There are always parades and football games and families getting together. If you are like a lot of people, New Year’s is a time when you like to reflect back on the past year and sort of see an adventure movie in your mind that covers the journey you have been on to get to this point. As you do so, there will download gifs be memories that are pleasant, amusing, heartwarming and enjoyable. These could engender emotions such as pride of accomplishment, sheer joy or happiness or perhaps a sense of relief as it, “I’m sure glad THAT is behind me!”
But there will be other memories as well. These are the not so pleasant ones such as remembering the things you meant to do but didn’t. Or perhaps, you might have memories of loved ones and friends who are no longer in this world. You may remember a particular painful parting or loss – perhaps of a friendship or a job you have worked at for many years. Maybe there was a serious illness and maybe the consequences of it are still with you. There are others I could mention, but you get the idea.
As the new year closes then, all these things, both good and bad, are wrapped up in a package called “My Life in 2011.”
Now, as you tie a string around that package and put it in permanent storage in your mind, you get a new box to replace it. My wife and I have moved from one place to another many times during our marriage. There are always too many boxes. If you have moved at all you know the kind of box I am talking about. When you first see it, it looks like a piece of cardboard flattened and useless. However, if you unfold it and then tape the bottom closed, an open, empty box emerges.
That is what is going on right now in you mind when you approach a new year. The new year is opening up and ready for you to start putting things in it. What they will be is up to you. Right now, though, all you have is an empty box. I would like to believe that among the first items you put in the box are a strong sense of Hope and Humility. These are qualities all of us need every day. Then, you can put in the things that make your life good. I wouldn’t begin to presume to tell you what those are for you individually. For each of you it would be different because every individual has talents and traits that are well suited to his or her personality.
Another set of items that could possibly go into the box are “New Year’s Resolutions.” I hope you will be careful with these. They can clutter up your box to the point that nothing else will fit! Resolutions such as, “This year I am going to _____(fill in the blank, your choice) Suggested answers: lose weight, quit smoking, get out of debt, be a better husband/wife/parent.” There are many other possibilities. The problem is that, generally speaking, by the end of January, they are gone and forgotten. In other words, New Year’s Resolutions just don’t work.
So, I would like to suggest an alternative. Instead of saying, “Next year, I will never smoke/overeat/spend too much money, or whatever,” say, “Today, I will not smoke or eat too much or buy that thing just because it is there.” Tomorrow and for all the days after it you wake up and say the same thing. Every day you start with a new commitment. Every day you are starting over. All the past mistakes (including the ones you made yesterday) are gone. Today you are once again starting over with a clean record. You see, when it comes to changing longstanding habits like smoking or overeating, our minds are not equipped to handle any commitments longer than a day or so, especially as we learn new behaviors. If we burden ourselves with Resolutions that are too broad, life gets too overwhelming, and that can lead to depression, anger, disillusionment and just giving up. We are destined to fail for sure.