…because some thoughts are worth remembering
When I was growing up in Japan, where many of its most significant celebrations occur around the end of the year and the start of the new year, we had rituals that expressed our traditional values. We exchange gifts at the end of the year to thank people who have helped us, and write new year greeting post cards submitted before the post office deadline so they are delivered on and not before New Year’s Day. We do a deep clean the house and listen to 108 bells ring at a Buddhist temple to atone for the sins committed during the year, so that we are able to welcome the new year with a clean slate, physically and mentally.
But I don’t remember thinking about new year’s resolutions. The closest practice for me was going to temple and purchasing a wooden plaque with a painting of that year’s Chinese Zodiac’s animal (2019 is Year of the Boar), and writing a wish on the back and tying it to a designated place at a Buddhist temple or a Shinto shrine. I was also taught that January 2nd was an important day, to start doing something you want to master or make a habit for the year.
Perhaps it is this practice of picking habit for the year that attracts me to setting intentions for the year rather than new year’s resolutions. It doesn’t have to be a replacement, but if you are having a hard time setting or following through on your new year’s resolutions, you might want to try setting intentions instead or to augment your resolutions.
As a way of showing an example, I’ll share mine:
2018 was a year full of “ick” feelings, despite my fortunate status, privilege and resources available to me. I realized I wanted to be more deliberate about bringing joy into my life. That’s my intention. I am going to focus on 3 things that, without them, I’m not complete. They are (daily because it’s easier to keep track and make it a habit):
To synthesize my experiences, I want to post my reflections WEEKLY.
To make sure I am getting a diverse outlook, read a book authored by a person of color for every book I read authored by a white person.
I see the above as loosely framed goals that are possible realizations/implementations of my intention. The purpose is to remind myself to bring joy into my life, so if they no longer serve that purpose, I can drop them. If there are other things I can do that arise from my intention, that’s cool, too.
I also set a motto for 2019 of
• Do less, and
• Follow through
so I don’t get into a self-competitive mode of reading as many books as I can, or listen to as many composers as I can. [so, my “anti-goal“, is to cover ground, or place quantity over quality] I need to do less, and get more from each activity I engage in. That’s how I bring in joy.
To remind myself of my intentions, I carry a small notebook wherever I go. It’s labeled 2019 intentions on the cover, and I keep track of the 3 daily items.
What brings you joy?
Photo: Ise Jingu, the most significant Shinto Shrine in Japan