Contemplating the New Year: Ideas for Making the Most of Life

This post is made up of the flotsam and jetsam that have been washing around in the ocean of my mind, waiting to be shared. May it be of benefit to you as we enter the New Year.

  • New Year’s resolutions don’t often work because we need to be at a certain stage of readiness to make real change. But we could say to ourselves, “This year I will watch for those moments of readiness as they arise, and I will try my best to make use of them.”
  • Acceptance of things as they are is the only way to begin to change things into what they might be.
  • When you think you can’t accept someone as they are, or let something go, or forgive, because it would be “letting them off the hook,” just consider who is really on that hook, and whose hook it is.
  • When your life doesn’t feel the way you want it to feel, identify what is missing and bring a little bit of that into your day. Every day. Just a little bit. Identify what there is too much of and begin to trim it away, a little bit each day. In this way, a lovely balance will be struck and you will have gained the skill of adjusting your life as needed. What is missing can sometimes be identified through feelings of envy or sorrow. What is too much might be found in what is irritating or tiresome.
  • Nothing is perfect – not you, and not the world around you. Stop trying to be so special and impossible, and just be your own version of what it is to be human. It may be messy, but it is more than good enough.
  • We don’t berate ourselves for continuing to use the positive skills we learned as children, such as how to read, write, tie our shoes, and ride a bike. Why beat ourselves up for using the negative skills we learned back then, such as anger, rejection, clinging, isolation, self-negation, whining? Self-compassion and patience are what heals us. Try unlearning how to read sometime; you will have more appreciation for how hard it is to undo the wounds of childhood.
  • Thinking something over and over is not the same as getting somewhere with it.
  • Consider letting go of perfectionist tendencies. They are a misguided attempt to be safe in a world beyond our control. Instead, we can cultivate a flexible mind and body, to better respond to obstacles as they arise in real time, rather than anticipating imaginary ones in our minds.
  • When investigating troublesome patterns, don’t ask “Why did I do that?” We tend to hear “why?” as an accusation, and reflexively defend against it. When we bring friendly curiosity to bear, such as by asking “How does this happen?” we open up, and share our inner selves with our own minds. The tightly bound habits can begin to unravel. We might even find humor in the situation, and you know how healing that can be.
  • Sometimes you just need to drop the project.
  • Don’t let fear run your life – neither loud fear nor subtle fear. Be curious, befriend the fear, interview it. “What do you really need, dear fear?” you might ask. Then listen. What do you have to tell me? Listen still. Then tap in to your heart, into the limitless possibility of love and compassion and bathe yourself and fear in the golden glow. Love it all. Why not? It is never to late to apologize, or to receive an apology. Even years later, it still has the power to heal. Forgiveness can happen in a moment.
  • It is a good thing we can’t make other people feel or think or behave the way we want them to, because that would mean they could do the same to us. I have never met anyone who would be okay with that.

What are your thoughts? Please share in the comments below.

© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Ker Cleary, LPC, therapist in Eugene, Oregon

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Cal

    Cal

    January 3rd, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    It is best to realize that life is not perfect and neither are we! And no amount of resolving to do “better” this year is going to make that any different. Resolve to do the best that you can to make better choices in life- that is the most that any of us can do to make substantial changes for the better in life. And I personally think that this is enough.

  • Ker

    Ker

    January 4th, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    Cal, I most heartily agree!

  • Tommy Norman

    Tommy Norman

    January 4th, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    January 1 is just another day to me. We have to strive to lead a good life every day of the year and not simply the month of January. And as for people getting you down? Well, I have to be able to take what they say with a grain of salt because if I let myself believe everything that someone has ever said about me then I would be pretty low indeed.

  • glen

    glen

    January 4th, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    very nice advice in the post..there’s just so many times when we try to become perfect and that too to please others..that is a form of self-harm if you ask me.not that I don’t do it but what’s bad is bad..I try not to do it.

    what is required to make our daily lives better has a very good answer in the article too-“identify what is missing and bring a little bit of that into your day. Every day. Just a little bit. Identify what there is too much of and begin to trim it away, a little bit each day.”

    thank you for the post.

  • tammy

    tammy

    August 20th, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    totally true point about not just THINKING about something but actually DOING it!

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