As shared in my previous post Being Mindful of Me, I have been investigating various avenues of life in order to connect fully with myself and achieve a level of self-fulfilment through the choices I make. This exploration began in September following some homesickness I was suffering with. Naturally at a new year, people decide to make similar self examinations, aspiring to make changes and improvements. I became curious and wanted to delve a little deeper into phenomena and the thinking and opinions that go on behind this. So when writing this post I enlisted the help of a select few friends to tell me their opinions regarding ‘new year’, their wise words are referred to throughout and I appreciate them sharing their outlook with me.
I usually begin a blog post with a quote that I agree with and that is contextual to the topic of my writing however finding a relevant quote for new year has proved to be difficult as they so consistently include the ‘new year: new me’ attitude of life. Like the social media posts of ’10 Ways to Achieve Happiness Forever’. It is fairly poor guidance. Fortunately I managed to find one that I felt was most appropriate:
‘And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been’ – Rainer Maria Rilke.Whilst I am all for change and improving oneself, I also believe that the term ‘new year: new me’ is not much to live by. New year’s makes people reflective of what sort of life they are living. Taking this time is not a bad thing though more often than not resolutions are born out of an inner dissatisfaction with life, blaming aspects such as physical appearance, habits or addictions. One such opinion agrees with this, explaining that we are all a life long work in progress hence it does not seem helpful to put a lot of expectation on a sudden singular transformation. Although factors like habits and appearance are a worthy realisation, true satisfaction runs deeper and cannot be achieved with a ‘quick fix’. Due to this, a new year’s resolution’s life expectancy is generally fairly short. People exert too much pressure on themselves resulting in them resenting the resolution and deciding it isn’t worth it and why on earth did they make that ridiculous aim anyway?
This January I began the new year by reading Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (a gift originally bought for Josh but I am enjoying it). Though he swears a lot in the first half and fairly unnecessarily, the points he makes are simple yet profound. He dives into the first 10 pages announcing that our life aim of happiness is in fact a negative experience. We are constantly looking for something, be it an experience or an item or a person, in order to achieve blissful contentment yet this consistent search stops us from enjoying the current happiness we could be feeling in our day to day lives. He writes ‘the desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience’. Perhaps new years resolutions are focused too much on what Mark refers to here; if I lose weight I will be happy, if I travel I will be happy, if I find a partner I will be happy.That being said, I am not arguing that new years resolutions should die out. Maybe just improved. As one person said, whilst resolutions are not fool proof, any reason for self reflection or self improvement is a step in the right direction. For example, some January challenges can be a positive experience that brings people together like dry January and Veganuary. Challenges such as these are fun to begin the year with however in reference to typical personal resolutions, people are capable of doing these any time of the year regardless of the season. Another opinion agrees with this, explaining that if you have a good relationship with who you are and where you want to be then there is no real reason to set multiple goals at the start of the year. People should work towards being the best version of themselves (in their own opinion) therefore should not need an arbitrary day to start making such movements. For example, if you want to lose weight, why wait until a certain day to start eating well, exercising and tracking the numbers on the scales. If you truly want to be healthier and shed pounds then your entire being should want to work at that from ‘right now’ (whenever that may be), not ‘on Monday’. Essentially, if we know we could be living better, we should not wait to do it.
One person interestingly wrote that with the beckoning of a new year, perhaps it is best to be reflective rather than dismissive of the finishing year. It is better to walk into the new year with more knowledge as oppose to approaching it with a completely new perspective. Perhaps this should be the concluding outline. We learn from the past and adjust for the future, be it through ‘new year: new me’ January resolutions or general reflection throughout the year and understanding that people can make a change WHENEVER they feel it right.