Forget Resolutions - Start a New Year's Revolution
Jan 01, 2015
Revolution: (noun) a far-reaching and drastic change, especially in ideas, methods, etc.; a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something; a change of paradigm.
Resolutions are typically centered on setting goals to create some form of success yet only eight percent of resolutioners are actually achieving their goals. This is why I feel jaded when I hear the word resolutions. Aren’t we essentially seeking lasting changes as opposed to setting lofty goals we’ll feel badly about not achieving later in the year? I dug a bit deeper and learned there is a better word to represent what we seek: revolution. Not a violent revolution, but rather a peaceful internal revolution to radically change our way of thinking, helping us make lasting positive changes in our lives.
The term resolution refers to: the condition or quality of being resolute; firmness or determination; the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. The notion that one is determined or firm in their actions implies an attempt to create a desired outcome with the expectation that it must happen no matter the cost, rather than allowing what it is truly needed to unfold naturally. Stress and anxiety results if expectations aren’t met.
Most of our perceived problems are rooted in deeper issues that affect us in our daily lives. Goals won't help you until you fix the deeper issues. So this year my peaceful revolution starts with an overhaul of my self-defeating behaviours.
‘You are your own worst enemy.’
It’s a simple truth about what it is that ails us. Our blasted monkey minds - the voice inside us that has 100 percent of our attention and trust, despite it feeding us negative, self-limiting thoughts most of the time (outside of completing tasks like how to pay bills, shop for groceries, etc.). Without this monkey business I would follow the most inspiring advice I heard this year from a dear friend of mine.
My friend is the CEO of a company tasked with making the Port of Los Angeles sustainable. It’s a multi-million dollar project involving many powerful stakeholders. Before taking the job she wasn’t sure she was up for it. When making the final decision a friend asked, "what would you do if you had no fear?" She replied, "well I’d take the job of course!" "Then there is your answer," her friend said. She told me she’s been vibing off this advice ever since and doing amazing things.
I am inspired by the concept of no fear, as fear is the source of my self-defeating behaviors. But how to integrate this into everyday life when the little creepy monkey keeps beating away on the same old drum, beating out the same old tunes from my past? Even if I don’t believe the lyrics they affect me all the same.
What did I learn in 2014 that could help now?
“You are your thoughts.”
“Thoughts become things.”
“Don’t focus on destroying the old, focus on building the new.”
Through yoga and meditation I’ve learned the best way to create internal peace is to not think at all. Full stop. But is that achievable all the time? No, because our little amigo will always be swinging through the jungles of our conscience, chirping thoughts ceaselessly to keep a tight reign on us.
We are imperfect beings in an imperfect (perfectly perfect) world. Joy is only temporary when you achieve goals because you know eventually the little creep is going to come up with more goals that you THINK you must achieve before being completely worthy of everyone’s love, including your own. Lasting joy comes from seeking out peace in our minds which helps us break down the barriers to our love. We can do this!
We have to reprogram the monkey to speak sweet words of kindness and truth and learn when to ignore him for a rejuvenating break. We must be aware of our self-talk to understand where we are coming from and see where we need to go. We are internally programmed with limiting beliefs, stemming from our fears, that stop us from living out our dreams. Since ‘thoughts become things,' this affects how we are able or not able to achieve our goals.
It’s time to start a revolution; let's deal with the behaviours that don’t serve us and build something new.
Plant a Sankalpa
I found this, perfectly perfect piece on Elephant Journal about creating new ways of thinking. The author Hilda Carroll recommends creating a Sankalpa.
Carroll says a Sankalpa is “a seed we sow in our conscious mind. Once it is sown, we nurture it daily until it takes root in our subconscious. When our subconscious is onboard, our Sankalpa will start to manifest outside us in abundant ways.” We plant an intention within and then nurture it from the inside out to make lasting changes.
She says, “The energy of choice, rather than the energy of “should”, is what makes all the difference.” You are choosing a new way of thinking rather than feeling you should do something that society finds worthy or appealing.
Let’s revolt against our limiting beliefs and replace them with new ones that are actually true! Carroll speaks of finding your core Sankalpa to help you live out your life’s purpose. She says it can take time to find it, however in the meantime you can practice Sankalpas for particular thoughts you would like to plant into your conscience. You can do this by choosing just one seed (one affirmative piece of self-talk) and nurture it until it is a part of you and your everyday life.
So, the idea is to create key affirmations in the present tense and focus on them until they are integrated into your thoughts and actions.
I’ve summarized Carroll's four tips on creating your own Sankalpa:
1. The wording is simple and in the present tense.
eg. “I put my best ideas into action immediately” "I'm worthy of love" "I attract positive people"
2. Tune into yourself and ask, “What do I really need to focus on?”
eg. “I feel good about the work I produce” “I take time to relax” “I have balance in my life”
3. Bring it to mind frequently and silently repeat it as much as possible (especially when you are relaxed because the subconscious is more receptive when you're relaxed!).
eg. In the shower, just before bedtime, as you are waking, preceding meditation or yoga, etc.
4. Use a trigger.
Bring your Sankalpa to mind at random points throughout the day.
Eg. when you see double-digits such as 11:11 take a deep breath and repeat your Sankalpa three times.
Which leads us to our next revolution: creating mindfulness in your everyday life.
Being mindful will help you be more aware of the Sankalpa you’ve planted and alert to any monkey chatter that might hinder the blossoming of your new behaviours. By taking time to create space in your mind, you become more aware and therefore more present in your daily life. The path to mindfulness is through meditation.
Meditation allows the space for us to detach from our thoughts and flow with the present moment (kind of like when you're surfing!). From this peaceful place you can better manifest your dreams because you’re more in tune with who you really are and what matters most to you. The Chopra centre has many resources to help you learn how to meditate and create mindfulness.
Try starting with just 10 minutes a day, then working up to 30 minutes twice a day - first thing in the morning and later in the evening either after work or before bed. A nice introduction to meditation is with guided meditation.
Or go on a meditation retreat to fully immerse yourself and learn techniques. Even better, try mixing in surfing and yoga at the same time: the Chillhouse is offering a unique 10 day Yoga and Meditation retreat this month.
Here are a couple resources worth checking out:
Ten Day silent meditation retreats around the world teaching Vipassana, which is an ancient Indian technique of meditation.
The Mindfulness Meditation Institute offers many resources to help get you started with learning to meditate.
Now let's combine the first two suggestions: mindfulness during the day to understand what negative thoughts you are repeating and could replace. Then set aside some personal time to rewrite the negative self-talk into positive Sankalpas. They say it takes 21 days to break a habit, so why not focus on the next 21 days with planting your first Sankalpas?
Next, from ‘Ditching Resolutions and Going for Happy: An Intentional Practice of Simple Delight’
Susan Bigelow, a somatic mindfulness professional, speaks of setting intentions for greater happiness. Research suggests 40 percent of happiness is determined by intentional activity. We have the power to choose happiness. Bigelow gave up resolutions last year in exchange for focusing on intentions. Last year she focussed on an intention to feel greater ease in mind and body, discovering more mindfulness and greater success in the long-term with this approach.
This year she’s setting an intention for greater happiness and supporting this through an exploration of one single micro-practice: the practice of ‘simple delight.’ She’ll practice this throughout each day, noticing simple things such as the comforting sound of rain on the rooftop or anything that subtly makes her happy. This trains your brain to become increasingly aware of things that make you feel good, and the more you notice, the more there is to notice!
Bigelow suggests, “like a little kid, keep it simple and start small -- perhaps two delights a day -- and notice what happens over the course of a week. What's great about the simple delight practice is that, over time, you actually become more inclined to practice. As Rick Hanson so eloquently describes in his work with neural plasticity and attraction thinking, by noticing the good, you actually change your brain to become increasingly inclined to notice the good more of the time. It's a self-sustaining, upward spiral towards general happiness instead of a big stick slog towards a specific new behavior."
Gratitude and reflection
Just for fun too (because what is the point unless we are having some fun?!) another article on Elephant Journal has some sweet non-resolutiony type of suggestions like keeping an awesomeness jar. For those that aren’t into journaling this is a way of practicing gratitude and reflecting on all the good things that happen in your life. Every time something wonderful happens, it can be little or big things, you write it down on a piece of paper and put it in a designated jar. Anytime you need some pep or feel life sucks you can open the jar and read these moments to appreciate the good things.
Lastly, some advice from Tamara Star via Huffington Post: “Take a moment to look back and reflect on what you've accomplished and done well this year, because over 365 days, you've accomplished a lot and have grown tremendously.”
Feel gratitude to your Self, for just being you. Even if you didn’t accomplish anything - you are still here!! That’s reason for celebration. To walk this planet and breathe its air is a mighty fine accomplishment. You made it to the party, woo hoo!
Why wait another moment - overthrow the negative monkey chatter with your new way of thinking and being in this world. Then you might find you naturally achieve all the goals you need without forcing resolutions on yourself.
Happy planting in 2015! Much love and light to you all.
Marketer, Writer, Teacher. Having been a yogi and surfer for over a decade, Stacey decided to attend a surf yoga retreat. She found it time-consuming sorting out which retreat to attend and who to support with her hard-earned money. From this hatched iSurf iYoga, a website for wave-sliding yoginis to come together to share their journeys and where they can easily find inspiring, sustainable adventures. Other passions: mountain biking, skiing, boarding (all kinds), raw food, turtles, chocolate, Sci-fi and traveling. She fell in love with traveling on a four month trip to South East Asia on her first adventure 14 years ago. "Just like the experience of surfing the first time, I felt like I came alive."