“In bringing about genuine inner transformation and change, the Dalai Lama emphasizes the importance of making a sustained effort. It is a gradual process.” —The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
The resolutions whether you have concretely written them down or potential ideas of what you wish could improve in this new year are dancing about in your mind, are being considered because you recognize growth that you’d like to see in yourself and in your way of living.
In redoing my office space this past weekend, I was reintroduced to The Art of Happiness – a book that I purchased in 1999, read with eager curiosity, and only now is able to more deeply understand what was written.
Much of what is shared reinforces what the art of living well consists of – a better understanding of one’s mind, as well as one’s self, giving yourself permission to delve into your emotions, becoming comfortable with letting go of attachment, and being willing to have patience, put forth great effort. Also, becoming conscious of how society and the culture each of us resides influences us and our ways of living that we may not be fully aware.
In chapter 12, the subject focuses on “Bringing About Change”, and the three components of success and lasting change are determination, effort and time.
A reminder of this truth is apropos this time of year, but truthfully at any time of the year when we choose to make an improvement, and especially when we think the change is impossible or becomes too difficult.
On the subject of the change we seek being difficult to attain, the Dalai Lama was asked the following question by Dr. Howard C. Cutler,
“People often want to make positive changes in their lives, engage in healthier behaviors, and so on. But sometimes there just seems to be a sort of inertia or resistance . . . How would you explain how that occurs?”
The Dalai Lama responds, “That’s quite easy . . . It’s because we simply become habituated or accustomed to doing things in certain ways. And then, we become sort of spoiled, doing only the things that we like to do, that we are used to doing.”
When asked how can a person overcome this, he responds, “By using habituation to our advantage. Through constant familiarity, we can definitely establish new behavior patterns . . . by making a steady effort, I think we can overcome any form of negative conditioning and make positive changes in our lives. But you still need to realize that genuine change doesn’t happen overnight.”
Being realistic is certainly a good idea when it comes to setting goals and making resolutions, but we also should not be afraid of making significant change even if we aren’t sure how long it will take.
If new year’s resolutions revolve around the theme of losing weight, refrain from the quick fixes and instead cultivate a healthy and enjoyable way of living. This includes not only diet, but exercise and a balanced daily life that does not leave you exhausted and chronically stressed. Look at the habits that are helpful and be honest about the unhelpful defaults.
If new year’s resolutions have to do with completing a significant project or task, be realistic about your schedule and prioritize and perhaps eliminate other activities or responsibilities in order to give your best effort.
Today is the day when we set an intention, but the immediate next step once we have outlined the journey to arrive at our desired destination, is to put into action the activities, new habits and mindset we need to be successful. And since we’re on the topic of success, educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom “examined the lives of some of America’s most accomplished artists, athletes and scientists. He discovered that drive and determination, not great natural talent, led to the success in their respective fields.”
In other words, be persistent, when it becomes difficult, read my New Year’s 2018 post and recite Marie Forleo’s saying, “And this is what I want”. And then keep doing the daily work, consciously sticking to the habits that will eventually become part of your muscle memory, and eventually, you too will see the awesome change you seek.
The new year holds an abundance of promise. Seek out that promise because you do have what it takes to attain it. Bonne année! Happy New Year!
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