Every year we all make resolutions, but sometimes not sticking to them is out of our hands. Why? Because we can never know what will happen in the future. Often you don't stick to New Year's resolutions if you don't know how life will unfold.
by Sandra Shama Kaur
From a lifestyle and spiritual perspective, the term New Year's resolution is about understanding our own habits and seeing how we can change them to live a happier and healthier life. If you want to make a better you, you have a chance to make a promise to yourself and hopefully keep it.
This is no easy feat because, ultimately, habits can make or break us. They are hard to change and we spend our entire lives programmed by our habits. The New Year is a good opportunity to review ourselves in relation to our habits and ask: Which of my habits are promoting? Helpful? Useful? Which of my habits are demoting? Harmful? Unhelpful?
Some habits are ingrained so deep within ourselves that we act on them subconsciously. Think about your morning routine: brushing your teeth, switching on the teakettle, grabbing the newspaper. Other examples of subconscious habits are those we do in response to stress or a challenging situation. The most common example is going for a smoke, having a drink or eating chocolate to blow off some steam.
Whatever it is, the New Year is an opportunity to review ourselves, our habits and to decide which habits are promoting and which are demoting, or holding us back. Promoting habits are helpful. They improve our development and caliber for excellence. For example, the habit of meditation to clear the mind, exercise to purify the body, going for a walk outdoors to connect with nature and your inner self.
Demoting habits, by contrast, are not helpful because on some level they are causing harm. For example, finishing all the cookies in the cookie jar and then regretting it the next day. Or yelling at your coworkers or employees when something doesn’t work out the way you expect.
I don’t believe that men and women really have different priorities concerning New Year’s resolutions, and ultimately, the question is how can one best fulfill their New Year's resolutions? It's important to bring consciousness into our habits. We need to be aware of the reasons why we have certain habits in our life to understand our current stage in life.
For example, I used to have the habit of eating crackers or dark chocolate at the end of a long day. It had become automatic, and something I looked forward to. Reviewing my habit, I realized that in my loneliness, I looked forward to a companion and my companion was these items. So I gave myself permission to have them in my life. But then I realized the chocolate made me so alert in the evening that it totally disrupted my sleep patterns, and the excessive crackers contributed to bloating, weight gain and heaviness. By understanding the promoting and demoting reasons behind my habit, I was able to conquer it. I quit all crackers and chocolate in January 2015 and I feel great. I replaced these habits with an evening meditation, a hot bath and some lavender and chamomile tea.
The secret to success is finding a new — promoting, of course — habit to fill the void. It is absolutely imperative to replace the old habit with a new habit if we are to succeed.
This year I started my personal resolution a little earlier. I promised to complete a 1,000-day daily meditation that lasts 62 minutes. I started in September and I hope to continue until mid-2020.
Sandra Shama Kaur is a lifestyle and wellness specialist.