“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Friday, 3 January 2014

Positive and Negative Resolutions

I have made New Year's resolutions every year since I can remember. Mostly, they have lasted until about the end of January, if that long.  But in the last couple of years, I have tried to go a little bit deeper, and to do some of the reflection and self-evaluation practiced by the adherents of other faiths, such as Hinduism and Judaism and Christianity. The spiritual direction process, which I have been participating in for the past couple of years, has taught me that this process of self-examination is a valuable one, if uncomfortable.

image: etsy.com

It has also occurred to me, on my first run of the year this morning, that I am more likely to keep resolutions which are positive, than resolutions which are negative. Let me give you a couple of examples. I may resolve to run three times a week. I know, from past experience, that running is good for me, and makes me feel good too, so I am more likely to keep it up (and in fact, have done, sporadically, for the past 15 years). Whereas I cannot tell you how many times in the past that I have resolved on 1st January to give up smoking and give up drinking. And yet have failed, time and time again. It was only when the time was right, in June and September last year, that I managed to achieve these resolutions. The moral of the story: giving things up, just because it is a random date in the year, won't work, unless you have thought about it and reflected on it, and really resolved to do it, all in advance. So rather than "giving up" chocolate and biscuits and cake, or "going on a diet", my resolution will be to "eat healthily" or "make healthy eating choices". Sounds much nicer, doesn't it? It's a good psychological trick, which actually works.

So for 2014, my New Year's resolutions are all going to be positive ones: to keep on running, keep on writing, keep on loving, keep on growing. And live in the spirit of the prayer of John O'Donohue:

May I live this day,
Compassionate of heart,
Gentle in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.


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