why I stopped making new year’s resolutions

This year, I decided to not make any resolutions. Well, except maybe one. I resolve to just be myself.


I always felt making a set of resolutions meant needing to improve myself, be better at something, or change my body somehow.

The blogger Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui, a working, single mom who writes about minimalism and the anti-consumption movement, recently wrote:


What if I just accept this mediocre body of mine that is neither big nor small? Just in between. And I embrace that I have no desire to work for rock hard abs or 18% body fat. And I make peace with it and decide that when I lie on my deathbed I will never regret having just been me.


Oscar Wilde once quipped: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

This year, I resolve to see how I am when I am being inauthentic.

I resolve not to try to be someone I am not; or some fantasy I want to grow into, like an enlightened Tom 2.0

And use mindfulness to see through the masks I make to hide behind.

There is a way to live your ordinary life in pristine peace and joy just as it is right now. This is the way of everyday mysticism, yet it’s not about any “ism” at all.

Can we find moments in our life when we can step back and reflect on this simple yet powerful insight, which lies at the heart of our mindfulness practice: to just be here, now, without pretense, free and open, relaxed and at peace?

I think an awful lot of the stuff we deal with in meditation is really about struggling with the way things are, and wanting things to be otherwise.

I suggest a maturing practice, a deepening practice, is a more chill practice.

Just appreciating the tastes and possibilities of relaxing.

Meditation can turn into a kind of extreme sport, with elaborate training programs for those aspiring to the elite ranks.

But what if we set aside those fantasies for a while and just chilled, relaxed?

Mary Oliver’s poem “Yellow” reminds us:


There is the heaven we enter

 through institutional grace

 and there are the yellow finches

 bathing and singing

 in the lowly puddle.


Towards the end of a piece on her blog Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui continues:


What if I embrace my limitations and stop railing against them? Make peace with who I am and what I need and honor your right to do the same. Accept that all I want is a small, slow, simple life. 


That’s’ all I want – a small, slow, simple life.

Carl Jung envisioned a major shift in understanding the spiritual path –rather than ascending a steep mountain path seeking perfection, instead we “unfold into wholeness.”

And I would only add—the wholeness that is who we are right here and now.

We are not so much attempting to vaporize up our bad karma or destroy our demons, as it is really hard to do a decent job of this; our struggling attempts can easily leave us with more problems.

Rather, perhaps we need to chill a little and embrace life in all its realness – messy, incomplete, yet vibrantly alive.

It’s just about embracing now, without trying to improve or tweak anything. Trying to tweak things just brings more frustration.

And really, the present moment is un-tweak-able.

It’s just simply coming home again and again. No striving necessary.

As it says in the Zhuangzi, the ancient Chinese text from the late Warring States period (476–221 BC):


Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.


And in truly seeing this, that we are fully endowed with all we need, there may be a juicy-ness, afullness, some call it a joy, in just experiencing, without grasping or rejecting, what arises in the moment completely.

This is a quiet and deep joy that, in a way, has always been there, covered over by strata of reactivity and compulsiveness which subtly rule our lives, in one form or another.

One teacher I was very fortunate to sit a retreat with early on in my practice was Munindra, a Bengali teacher who trained in Burma. One of his students, Sharon Salzberg, recounts that when Munindra was asked once why he practiced his response was,


So I will see the tiny purple flowers by the side of the road as I walk to town each day.


Can we practice like this?


Katina and I are here to support your meditation practice in any way we can, just contact us through the Contact Page on this site. Or if you live in Honolulu, or ever visit, feel free to drop by our free, weekly meditation evenings.


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