Ditch the Resolution. Join the Evolution.

New Year’s Resolution, Jan 1, 1999:  “I resolve to give up cheese.” 

This I discovered, double underlined, in a 14-year-old journal I pulled out of a box last week.

I cannot recall writing this particular statement of genius, but I was 29 (an especially rough year), and since every New Year’s Day in my 20s (and most years since then, if I’m really honest with myself) I resolved I’d be skinny by Valentine’s Day, it’s safe to assume that said resolution was a thinly veiled declaration to lose 10 pounds.

Never mind the fact that when I was 29 I weighed 128 pounds.  And thought I was fat.  Lordy, how we women beat ourselves up.

By Jan 7, 1999, I’m sure my cheese resolution read more like this:  “I resolve to give up cheese, except on pizza.”  By Jan 14?  Add “…unless I’m hungover –or- …. unless there happen to be nachos nearby.” 

It’s safe to say all of my resolutions have undoubtedly evolved into an exercise in failure and self-loathing.

Come to think of it, I have yet to meet one person who has succeeded – and by ‘succeeded’, I mean become a genuinely happier person – at the hands of a typical New Year’s Resolution, because the standard results-driven resolutions (No more smoking, gym every day at 6am) are based upon the ego’s fear or desire. They almost always fail because they are born from the assumption that who we are is not good enough, and reinforce the mistaken belief that we will be happy…. if only I could give up cheese.

Once it’s down on paper, the idea that happiness will come from an absence of a dairy product sounds absurd, no?

Try this? Say this sentence out loud (or better yet, announce it to a friend –or a stranger on the bus, ha!):  “I will be content & happy with my entire life as soon as I (insert your resolution here).”

If it sounds crazy when you say it out loud, here’s an idea: Ditch the resolution(s) you made on Jan 1.  Burn them, toss them, or if you’re from the Pacific Northwest, fold it into the compost pile.

Instead, why not consider the ritual my rock star (metaphoric rock star, not literal) cousin, Bruce Littlefield, completes every January 1?

Upon awaking on the first day of each year, Bruce makes a list of the things his heart wishes for each year. He puts his wish list in an envelope, seals it and sticks it in his unmentionables drawer.

Then, according to Bruce, “I sit in bed every New Year’s Day and open my list from the previous year… I’m always amazed at how the list manifested itself (without the pressure of a “resolution”!)”

For help with your own list, scroll down.

Oh, and here are Bruce’s ALWAYS GO TO secrets for a happy life:

  • Tip 1: Laugh. A lot!
  • Tip 2: Plant a garden.
  • Tip 3: Eat fresh food.
  • Tip 4: Make things look good.
  • Tip 5: Embrace uncertainty.
  • Tip 6: Adopt a best friend.
  • Tip 7: Exercise until you feel good.
  • Tip 8: Figure out your family.
  • Tip 9: Live for the moment.
  • Tip 10: Celebrate the talents of others.

Twist Yoga Wishes all of us peace and joy… and to you and yours a magnificent 2013.

Revise Your Resolution:  Create your own Wish List.

When making your list, use the yogic practice of sankalpa – a practice that starts from the radical premise that you already are who you need to be.  You’re perfect the way you are; you need only (oh, is that all?) to figure out your most heartfelt desires to channel the divine energy within.

Contemplate how you would like to feel during the coming year. Is there any way you can reframe your results-oriented resolutions into something that will make this year’s journey more joyful?

To separate the ego from the heart’s desires, consider these examples:

  • The weight-based example:  Say you’ve set the common masochistic goal resolution of losing 10 pounds. Imagine how life will be, and how you think you will feel, as a result of losing weight. Is it a sense of self-love, physical well-being, or freedom? What is the feeling you are striving for? What is the longing in your heart that is pointing you in this direction?
  • The deprivation-based example:  Perhaps you’ve decided to quit something.  Smoking?  A toxic relationship?  To investigate the heartfelt desire behind this kind of intention, ask yourself what desire that behavior is currently trying to satisfy. Are you seeking peace of mind, freedom from pain, or the feeling of being accepted? What’s asking to be nourished here?

Create a short sentence(s) for your sankalpa. Be careful not to set limitations based on fear. For example, instead of “May life bring me only happiness and joy this year” consider “May I be happy and open to what life brings me.”