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I don’t generally do New Year’s resolutions. I never understood waiting for the calendar to tell me when to change. If I’m not ready, it’s a sure recipe for failure. I can feel when my energy is building towards a shot of self-improvement and habit-building, and that’s my best chance to get it to stick. However, I can sometimes use the magical “New Year” energy to boost me into a positive state of mind.

In 2008 I tried some mindfulness work, which was actually pretty successful. I printed out little “SLOW” signs – like you’d see on the highway – and taped them up in my car, in my office, on my bathroom mirror. It was a reminder to slow my life down: slow eating, slow speaking, slow driving, slow moving, slow thinking. Just generally being more mindful in every way. It worked very well. Whenever I stressed out, got pissed off, or was rushing around, I had a little reminder to take a deep breath and take a break. A reminder that if I’m stuck behind a cement mixer for half my commute, it’s the Universe telling me I’m supposed to be a little bit late that day and don’t question why. And can you guess what I learned? When you slow down, it’s easier to make decisions, to focus on tasks, to not mumble some nasty words to the person who cut ahead in line. People wish they could slow down time, but I’m here to tell you that you can.

My efforts in 2009 weren’t as successful. The goal was to learn to keep my mouth shut. If you listen objectively to the conversations going on around you, you’ll learn that an awful lot of what we all talk about is nothing but useless blather, gossip, or stories about ourselves. I was doing pretty well for a while. However, when things started getting busy at work I fell right back into, ahem, “venting”. Which is pretty much a nice way of saying you’re back-talking about whomever is making you lose your cool. I will admit to slipping a little at home, but the workplace did me in.

The theme for 2010 is Be the Buddha! A nice, short, easy-off-the-tongue mantra that is in the same vein as that What Would Jesus Do? mode of thinking. Building on the “SLOW” and “QUIET” campaigns, this is just my way of refocusing what I’ve tried to do all along, giving those habits more time to establish themselves and adding another element or two. I find this kind of resolution the easiest to succeed at: keep on doing the same, but nudge it to the next level.

What are your resolutions for 2010?

Wishing you a new year full of peace and love….

I had a lot of junk in my head: knee-jerk reactions, stereotypes, judgements, labels, assumptions, knowledge, ideas, things I’d accepted as fact without confirming, “common” sense, interpretations, life lessons, teachings… lots of crap in there. I started to look – with help from many sources, not always pleasant – at all this crap. Analyze it. Chew it up, think it over. And I finally began to realize that I was looking at my reality – my world – through all this stuff. And I couldn’t see very well.  

I wasn’t in touch with my emotions; I hurt the people I loved but didn’t understand why or how; I made poor choices; I was stubborn, lived in my head a lot, and was a bit of a control freak; I was afraid; I was attached. Of course, I didn’t realize all this until much later, after things began to unwind and could see more clearly.

When I turned 30, I decided to deal with a potentially bad medical issue. “Put on your big-girl panties and deal with it before it deals with you”, I said to myself. That small decision started me down a path that will probably take me lifetimes to fully navigate. At the time, I had no idea that I was on a path, or even needed a path. Now I see how that one small decision led to more opportunities, better choices, and “discriminative discernment”,  as my teacher called it.

I’ll be 40 next year and I’m a completely different person. I don’t know who I would be if I hadn’t started making these small changes, but I don’t think I’d like her.  And I know I’ll be totally different when I’m 50, and I can’t wait to meet her.

When I started getting rid of all the crap in my head, my vision improved immensely. My Monkey Mind is still there – I don’t see perfectly clearly yet, and maybe I never will. But my Monkey is wearing glasses now, and I can definitely see better than before!

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