Reflections on another New Year

Here we are, once again heading into a new year.  With it comes the old anxieties and perhaps even new ones.  Calendars are, after all, a human invention.  Turning their pages doesn’t resolve life’s events or remove their burdens.

But a new year can also help us take time to cull the clutter of the trivial and reappraise the useful:  old habits, bad memories, the good moments.

A new year traditionally triggers new resolutions or priorities.  And that’s a good thing.

But good resolves need anchoring by becoming habits.  Like newly planted seeds, they need watchful nourishing to assure they root and break the soil and survive Spring’s caprice.  This means mindfulness and setting up an inviolable time and place.

New habits often take six to eight weeks to take hold and, even then, require our vigilance.

We can help ourselves to a better year by worrying less about what we’re powerless to change and forgiving those who’ve grieved us, knowing they’re the true prisoners.  We can nourish ourselves in thinking the positive, and the reward may often be we we’re right. Through yoga, meditation and enhanced breathing, we can practice mindfulness, yielding discipline and reducing stress. We may not always avoid the stressful, but we can lessen its fallout by learning to bend with it, like survivor trees in high wind.

Maybe in addition to choosing better what we eat and exercising more we might do well to listen less to our daily news with its negative focus on human misdeeds.  I’m not advocating an ostrich stance in this, but simply uprooting stress by focusing on life’s good things and how we might bring them about, perhaps by not taking ourselves so seriously and, instead, developing greater awareness of those around us and of nature and of each day’s new possibilities for marshaling happiness. What’s more rewarding than a kind word, a  lover’s kiss, a child’s laughter, a red sunset, an airport embrace, etc.

Our resolutions ought to include more love and kindness, less worry, more acceptance.

It’s then we truly affect others, inspiring them to find their own radiance through our example of upbeat living.

All of this doesn’t come easily, so there’s truth to the axiom that bad habits die hard.

But as in a spring field erupting into its extravagant riot of weed and vegetable, we must begin the work of uprooting anything and everything that would overwhelm the tender shoots promising future harvest of what sustains.

As Voltaire reminds us, we can’t always alter time’s events, but where we are, whoever we are, we can till our own garden and make it bloom.

Do well.  Be well.


Author: RJ

Retired English prof (Ph. D., UNC), who likes to garden, blog, pursue languages (especially Spanish) and to share in serious discussion on vital issues such as global warming, the role of government, energy alternatives, etc. Am a vegan and, yes, a tree hugger enthusiastically. If you write me, I'll answer.

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