Taoist philosophy often speaks about the importance of the cycles of nature and life, even cycles within these cycles. Today we end an old year and as with any ending, we begin something new. It is important at these times to look back and see what we accomplished in the past cycle and plan for the next. The wisest among us, in anticipation of the end of any cycle, have already planned for the next but then again, they are few and far between. Unfortunately in our society the way we have a tendency to look back is by producing a list of the 10 most ridiculous reality show moments, or the top 10 news stories, etc… This is not truly looking back; this is book-keeping without any analysis.
What we need to do as we end a cycle is to analyze what progress we’ve made, our successes and our setbacks. In your quest for greater happiness, what did you do over the last year that made you happier? Perhaps you became more fit, lost weight, lowered your stress levels and found a consistent way to reward yourself for being a good person. Of course you may have also failed to address an ongoing source of stress in your life, did nothing to get out of the job you hate, or make any effort to help others and give back in any way.
The most important thing to understand about this analysis is that it is not done to pat yourself on the back or to punish yourself for not making advances. In fact it is not a judgmental process, but an accounting of what has happened so that you can do better. Dieters who have the most success are the ones who can’t let go of the fact that they didn’t eat properly the day before, dieters who beat themselves up and obsess over a previous day’s error end up eating to assuage their guilt in a self-defeating circle.
So don’t beat yourself up over what you didn’t accomplish, take what you did well, build upon it and in this cycle create a year that you’ll be proud to look back on. Be realistic, simple goals breed success that you can build on. I am not talking about the grandiose New Year’s Resolutions most people make. However the one thing that should be in common with them is that you should tell people what you plan to do, it provides an outside watchdog to help you when you lose your resolve.
On that note I’m putting forward one of the things I am hoping to improve in the next cycle and would invite you to share your own in the comments section. This will help all of us support each other and give others ideas about things they can do as well. My plan, in relation to one of my recent posts will be to more regularly meditate. Over the past year I have created a nice little altar area in my home and my hope is to sit down daily, if only for a few minutes and humble myself and meditate at that altar, wish me luck, and may your New Year be filled with happiness.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. ~ Lao Tzu
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