Hello February! How I welcome you! Not because you offer much relief from wintry grey skies, not because there’s anything particularly joyful about the month (for me at least) personally or professionally, but at least there’s a respite from the ‘new year, new you’ vibes of social media (and the more toxic corners of the wellness industry).
There’s nothing wrong with goal-setting and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to polish up those aspects of ourselves that feel a bit tarnished or rusty. That’s good work. Hard work, but good work. And we don’t have to shirk away from the hard work. It can give life meaning, give value to our actions and endeavours, and offer a sense of deep satisfaction.
My gripe is more with the underlying unease of new year’s resolutions. So often they arise from a sense of dissatisfaction, a feeling that we need to prove something to ourselves or others, that life will be better when…. when what? When we’ve nailed that gym habit, lost an amount of weight, played a meditation app every day, kept up with the journalling or whatever.
Can we shift the emphasis? Can we remind ourselves that these habits are simply tools to feeling better and that we are already doing a fantastic job of living life as a human being? We already do so much, care so much, and give ourselves a hard time. We don’t need more of that, we need more sense of ease and satisfaction, time to reflect on everything that we are already are, and from this place of steady satisfaction and trust in ourselves other stuff will bloom, we will bloom.
This is what yoga teaches me, at least. This is what I get from Patanjali, for example the four attitudes of maitri (loving-kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (delight), and upeksha (equanimity) or tada drastuh svarupe ‘vasthanam (when the mind stops getting in the way, we are able to see ourselves in our true divine form, recognizing God within — to paraphrase!).
So I’ve been asking recently (in my own practice and in the classes I teach): what do you want to feel more of this year? Not what do you lack that makes you feel bad about yourself, but what could you orientate yourself towards more strongly which is already inside you but just needs a little coaxing out into the light? What will make you feel better and light up those around you?
Do that work, feel better!