We all know the drill with New Year’s resolutions. Make a fancy wish. Look to the twinkling lights of the holidays. Hope for the best. Mmm hmm.
But haven’t New Years resolutions been proven not to work? And if they don’t work, can we get off that crazy treadmill and try something else?
As a teacher, I continually remind both myself and students that It is important to sit down and make clear choices about how we want to live and what we would like to create, and to do this often. But in the hubbub of the holidays, many attempt perfectly attainable “New Year’s” goals but fail to ground their dreams in concrete steps. Or, some get so pie-in-the-sky that unrealistic fantasies come crashing to the bitter earth by mid- to late January. Sound familiar?
Either way, we invariably and usually quietly give up entirely, and bury our dreams safely in the dead of winter, waiting and hoping for our eternal spring (something “out there”) to arrive. Talk about lives of quiet desperation. This year, I have a better idea, a suggestion, really.
In case no one has told you, You are a powerful creator. We all are. It’s what it means to be human. It’s human nature to create and expand and explore. Doesn’t it feel good to be reminded of that? So, why not just do what you pretty much have been doing all along? Just do it with more awareness. Look, you’ve made it this far, so just keep going, but with a bit more finesse.
There is a story I’d like to share with you, one that feels relevant to this topic of creating a really great life and having our dreams come true. I read it often in my yoga classes and retreats, so it’s been around for awhile. Perhaps you’ve heard it? It’s the story of a farmer and his trusty mule, and I think if we take it to heart, it will help us stay steady in the new year. The story goes something like this:
One day a farmer’s mule fell into the an empty, dry well. As the mule cried for help, the farmer assessed the situation. Although the mule had served the farmer faithfully for many years, the farmer decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble. So, he decided that instead of bothering to lift the heavy mule from the well, he would simply bury him in there. The farmer called his friend and together they began to shovel dirt into the open well.
When the first shovelful of dirt hit the mule he panicked. “What is this?” he thought. When the second shovelful hit him, he began to cry. “How could the farmer to this to me?” he wondered. When the third shovelful hit him, he realized the plan.
However, the mule decided that he would not allow himself to be buried alive. As each shovelful fell upon his back, he rallied himself to “shake it off and step up”. As each shovelful of dirt landed on him, and as he felt dejected and pained, he continued to chant to himself, “shake it off and step up”.
This he did, until – as the dirt reached the top of the well – the mule triumphantly walked out of what could have been his tomb.
If the farmer had not decided to try to bury the mule, the mule would never have survived. Ironically, it was the dirt meant to bury the mule, which actually ended up saving him – simply due to the way in which the mule handled the challenging situation.
One can never underestimate the power of a goal, but it’s the smaller goals, like that of the mule shaking off each individual shovelful of dirt as it arrived, for example, which are usually responsible for building larger successes. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions:
Shake off heaviness (from failed marriages, forgotten dreams, etc) by starting an easy, 5 minute morning mindfulness meditation practice that builds over time, and makes you feel really good about yourself and your day.
Shake off the feeling of being stuck (from a musty career that may be actually serving you quite well, for example) and open yourself to additional creative outlets like getting a journal and writing, or a sketch pad and sketching at lunch, etc. Put one on your list now and pick it up next time you are shopping.
Shake off the bitterness (of grief over losing someone you love, etc), and focus on the feelings of appreciation for how much human connection you have been given, again and again, over the decades. It all just keeps coming, doesn’t it?
So here we are, alone together, at the end of yet another year. Take stock in all the good you have created, and also take stock in all the not-so-good you have created. And re-engage wonder as you wander through life.
Acknowledge that you have a choice, and this ability to choose is offered up to you in each moment, moments that are as filled with wonder as you elect them to be. Better to make the mindset of wonder a habit, rather than a hobby around the holidays.
The steadiness of your heart and mind will go a long way in helping you move through life’s many difficulties, so that gently, powerfully, you can simply be living the life of your highest vibration and dreams. That is a new year’s resolution worth stepping up for.