How many years have we all spent time as the year turns ruminating about resolutions?  Like champagne at midnight, balloon drops and mistletoe, it’s part of mainline Western tradition for most of us—with the advantage that it carries some seriousness of purpose, imbuing the holiday with some level of gravitas.

I’m thinking differently about resolutions this year.  As I’ve examined potential resolutions, I keep getting a little uncomfortable.  Not just about the effort involved—but that somehow this resolution formation stuff is not coming from an authentic space.  First off, why do I have to be “new” in the first place?  Or stated slightly differently, why do I need to make some kind of change because there is some new/improved version of me, or my life, or my physical accoutrements that “should” be actuated?  What’s behind this drive to resolve in response to a should?

A column Pico Iyer published in today’s (12/31) New York Times, The Joy Of Quiet, (link to the column follows) catalyzed my discomfort with the lack of an authentic rationale for resolution mania.  It’s pretty easy to let monkey mind loose on resolutions.  We can get very distracted (or at least I can).  However, when we enter mindful silence, we notice the distractions for what they are, and can see they materialize against a mysterious infinite presence.  This presence, beyond words, is immune to the whims of resolve, in itself a construct of the mind.  In quiet we may catch some glimmers of what is essential, as Iyer suggests.  When we are aware of what is essential, there is natural, effortless movement towards this — appropriately enough called our essence, our deepest heart’s desire.  Our essence is timeless, without condition or obligation.  This essence becomes present and a force in our lives as mindful lovingkindness, compassion, and the discipline of practice.  In becoming present, there is no effort or strain–it is how our lives express when we are not editing out the silence.  In pure awareness, there is no voice of judgement.  It is enough to be aware.  Response–authentic, pure, timeless–moves through us and moves us.  The responder and the response become one.

This rings true for me.  So, this year I do not have any New Years resolutions.  But I do have some New Years essentials, the real “new” if you will, on which I intend to improve focus.  Here’s what’s at the top of my list.  I intend to be more aware of distractions, particularly online distractions.  I intend to be more aware of my judgements, of myself and others.  I intend to foster my natural state of equanimity, a state beyond any concept of happiness.  There are more.  What is essential about these  intentions, the real “new” thing, is that they are not ends in themselves.  They are universal, they are born of lovingkindness, and they are an ever present force or flow, whether we pay attention or not.

May your New Years be filled with peace, love and joy–now and always.

Here’s the link to Pico Iyer’s column: