Yes it’s that time of year again—a new year is just about here.
Rather than going out with the crowds, I like to spend New Year’s Eve at home, reflecting upon the last 365 days, asking what went well, what did I learn, grieving my losses, celebrating my successes, appreciating my relationships, reliving my times in nature, and appreciating another year that I have lived.
I like to look at life at a deeper level so I can truly take every experience and every learning into the new year.
Chinese philosopher Morihei Ueshiba expresses how we might do this: “Contemplate the workings of this world, listen to the words of the wise, take all that is good as your own. With this as your base, open your own door to truth. Do not overlook the truth that is right before you. Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Also learn from holy books and wise people. Everything—even mountains, rivers, plants, and trees—should be your teacher.”
Everywhere we look there is a new teacher for us. Sometimes that learning is painful, sometimes joyful, sometimes these experiences will impact us for the rest of our lives, or just for a fleeting moment.
Whichever one, that is life, a chance to learn, to become more of who we are at our core. Exploring how to not let the pain of a broken heart, a lost friend, a failed business, or financial worries make us bitter or reclusive, but to become stronger and wiser from these experiences.
A new year also gives us a chance to let go of anger, resentment, negativity, and a chance to offer forgiveness, love, and acceptance. By cleaning out the loses and the hurts, it helps us focus on what is important.
The last thing I want to have happen is to look back and have regrets of what I did not do, or what I did not let go of. What is wonderful to remember is that the past is not a predictor of our future unless we live unconsciously and we hold onto what keeps us stuck.
Instead create feelings of hope, of new desires, from the inside out. I enjoy creating a collage of what I would like to see my next year look like. When I do this, I let the pictures represent what is authentically me, not what my head or society says I should want. By reflecting on what is authentic we can ensure that we do not let life just happen.
Many people like to set New Year’s resolutions, but most people have given up on them within a month. Then they feel bad about themselves for their lack of so called will power, which leads them to go back to the negative behavior that they were trying to break in the first place.
The ritual of creating a process to start a new year is very impactful on our brain. In fact you could do it bi-yearly, or even monthly. Having rituals in your life create new neuro-pathways in the brain, which in turn creates new habits. These habits can be negative or positive, you choose. We have over 70,000 thoughts a day, so the more we are able to be conscious of them, the more ability we have to create the pathway of our future.
So as this new year comes upon you, reflect on what John Wayne said: “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life (except for the present). It comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”
So you have a clean slate to create a new year. Do not forget to embrace it all: the joy, the people, the pain, the laughter, the things that change and the things that stay the same.
It’s up to you what you want to do with all of this in the New Year.
Contact Dr. Zavala at [email protected] or DrZavala.com.