Let’s Find Serenity Internally: A New Year Resolution
About half of all individuals, according to studies, resolve to improve themselves in the new year. Only about 10% are successful in keeping them for longer than a few months.
When a “never good enough” perspective gives way to a “I am good enough” one, a profound shift occurs.
As we say goodbye to the year, we make pledges for a better future as we start a new month. Most families share their hopes and dreams for the new year around the dinner table.
Even if everyone attempts to dig deep and find something valuable while being real and honest, the promises we make to ourselves often go unfulfilled and forgotten, at least in my experience.
It’s likely that the ubiquity of social media in today’s world has led people to hide their “weakest” sides. Maybe it’s the flaws in our character that we never bother to fix.
New Year’s Eve gives me a chance to reflect on the past year. I like the time for reflection and feeling connected to myself and others that this special practice brings, even though I attempt to do these things on a more regular basis. Looking back, I realise that for a long time, my New Year’s resolutions focused on the aspects about myself I wanted to improve or the places where I fell short. I thought that if I just made some “easy” adjustments to how I was living my life, I’d be happier.
When we make plans to better ourselves at the beginning of a new year, there is almost always an implication that something in our lives is lacking or is not good enough. We make the choice to try to improve ourselves in some way, whether it’s physically (by dieting or exercising) or emotionally (by loving more deeply or spending more time with loved ones) or spiritually (by mending old wounds or fostering new ones in relationships or parenting). We try to express these desires, but we think we’re doing it wrong. It’s good to dream and aim for something. It’s good to improve your life for the better, yet this thinking is disconcerting. Why is it so hard for us to accept ourselves as we are? When we aren’t fully committed to keeping our word to ourselves, what’s the point in making the pledge in the first place?
It’s almost as if something is written in invisible ink beneath our New Year’s resolutions. Other myths or assumptions, such as a story about how we are not even worth our own value in the world. My opinion is that this is a detrimental tendency, the origin of which is frequently a conviction that we do not accept or value the manner in which we navigate the ups and downs of life. Therefore, it ultimately serves to bring us down.
It is not difficult to comprehend the psychological underpinnings of this negative outlook. In essence, New Year’s resolutions are just aspirational affirmations of what you hope to achieve in the next year. However, hundreds of studies in the field of motivation psychology demonstrate that setting objectives is not very effective. In fact, a large percentage of plans never get off the ground.
The question is, why should it be the case? The sensible, long-term region of your brain sets goals. Not for you is it difficult to understand why you should make the effort to improve. The part of your brain that supports your habits and governs most of your day-to-day behaviours is the root of the problem because it is more impulsive and short-term focused. Your brain automates behaviour to free up resources. But you struggle when your automatic habits contradict with your long-term goals.
When you make New Year’s resolutions or even other long-term plans, you are (metaphorically) communicating with the incorrect region of your brain. And doing so in the incorrect language. Ignoring the fact that statements like “I want to lose weight” and “I want to be kinder to other people” are not spoken in a language your habits and impulses can comprehend. You will then reach for a cookie and yell at your partner one day later.
In lieu of being critical of the past year, I want to set myself the goal of seeing it through the eyes of love. When it comes to the value of kindness, I am unwavering in my conviction. It’s crucial that we give ourselves permission to make mistakes, accept our shortcomings and be imperfect without whipping ourselves up over it. Self-love is our greatest gift. Life should be lived with compassion, courage, and empathy. We must first love ourselves before we can love others.
I know how easy it is to develop poor habits and how easy it is to relapse. Resolutions sometimes take the shape of alterations to one’s way of life, and it can be challenging to break the patterns of behaviour that one has grown accustomed to, even if those patterns are harmless. The most prevalent resolutions are weight loss, increased physical activity, cessation of tobacco use, and financial savings.
Most people fail to keep their resolutions because they set too many goals or are unreasonable. They may also experience the “false hope syndrome” (unrealistic expectations about changing their behavior’s pace, amount, ease, and consequences).
Self-love is an excellent starting point, but it’s not always simple to achieve. Sometimes I feel like we are pushed to our boundaries by the demand to be flawless in recent times. In the long run, the mental health consequences of striving for goals that are out of reach far outweigh any benefits. Everyone needs to discover an inner sanctuary where they may relax and be at peace with who they are. A scenario in which we can stop stifling our development out of a false sense of inadequacy and instead learn to embrace it.
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Love doesn’t need us to question our actions. Instead of wishing for something because we feel we don’t deserve it, we’ll wish for something because we accept and love ourselves. Rather than being driven by the critical conviction that we must alter our ways, we are inspired to action by the power of love. Eventually, it comes down to prioritising authenticity over illusion. Ultimately, it comes down to picking love over hate. It is about accepting ourselves, including our flaws. After all, it’s our flaws that give us humanity, and it’s in our humanity that we may find a true and lasting connection with one another. This relationship is essential.
Over resolution is a sure-fire way to fail. Instead of being too hard on yourself, try relaxing your expectations a little.
Recognize that setbacks are inevitable. In spite of your best efforts, you will inevitably slip up when attempting to cut back on alcohol, cigarettes, or unhealthy foods. Acknowledge that giving in to your cravings is a natural part of growing up and learning. Unfortunately, there are no quick remedies for breaking long-standing bad behaviours or adopting a healthier way of living. Even though these phrases have become cliche, they hold true all the same: we grow from our experiences, and each day is a chance to begin again.
If all of this sounds like too much effort and you don’t think resolutions are worth making, keep in mind that those who make them are 10 times more likely to achieve them than those who don’t.
I look forward to the New Year because it gives me the opportunity to take ownership, to celebrate my individuality, and to embrace my past. The best decision I made this year was to commit to being a better version of myself.
Faculty of Behavioural Sciences