Resolving to Create Compassionate Growth in the New Year

Happy new year to you! On January 1, we turned our calendars to 2017. On January 28, the new lunar year, the Year of the Rooster, begins. Welcoming a new year is always so exciting.

A new year makes us feel we we’re starting anew. It’s like a fresh-fallen snow, sparkling with so much possibility. Or like a new baby, whose eyes are wide and whose mind is fresh, waiting to be filled with all the sights and sounds of the world.

Just like the newly-fallen snow or a newborn babe, the new year is often viewed as pristine. We vow to take the best care of it; we don’t want to see it spoiled.

For many of us, this takes the form of creating resolutions. We want the best for ourselves, and we think a fresh start is just what we need to achieve our goals. We vow to eat healthier, exercise more, meditate more frequently, and donate more of our time and energy to what matters most to us.

But what happens when our intentions and behaviors falter? Do we know how to be kind to ourselves as we learn something new?

Frequently, when we fall away from our resolutions, we chastise ourselves: We say, “I failed. I’m no good.” Or, “I guess this just wasn’t my year to achieve that goal.”

But what would happen if we treated ourselves the way we treat the new year, as that precious newborn babe? We would smile and say, “Oops, you fell down. Good job for trying! Let’s try again!”

From so many small mistakes, a baby learns to walk. If we hold her up and she never falls, she doesn’t learn where to place her feet. She doesn’t develop her own muscles. The baby learns not in spite of falling, but because of it. Each time she gets back up on her feet, she has more determination. She has new tactics to try.

This is how we make any change: we start off clumsy, we learn, we get better, and we delight in our success. This is the most effective way to learn. We encourage ourselves, take our failures in stride, and push on toward our goals.

So now let us ask ourselves a difficult question: If we are not treating ourselves with compassion as we navigate new territory, can we expect to treat others that way?

Are we allowing our fellow man to make mistakes? Or are we quick to find fault, delighting in any sign of weakness?

The secret to achieving a new year’s resolution is to treat each day — each moment, in fact — as a renewed opportunity to do what the best part of us requests of us.

Each new day is a new chance to be gentle with ourselves and with each other. [Tweet that!]

This means that when we falter or fall, we do not give up. When we struggle or stall, we do not get angry.

In this new year, let us all resolve to be more gentle to each living person in order to make the space for the growth and change that we all want to see. You can feel it, can’t you? We are at the threshold of a great and powerful change? The world is shifting, and we have the power to help shift it toward a higher plane of human existence.

The most powerful recognition is that the very people we disagree with most also want this. We have so many disparate opinions about how this good will be achieved that we have a hard time hearing one another. We lose the intention in the maelstrom of different details.

But here is a simple truth: Whether you believe you can work with someone else for peace or you don’t, you’re right.

The more we alienate each other, the less we will be able to accomplish.

The divide in our country is an opportunity to develop our awareness and knowledge.

To recognize our shared suffering and fears, and to acknowledge our unrealistic expectations and feelings about equanimity.

It is a moment to realize the power of our collective unconscious and work to transform it, developing our mindfulness about the truth.

Words are powerful, but the actions that follow our words are even more powerful.  And when those actions are informed by gentleness of spirit and compassion of mind, they can tear down walls and move mountains.

This a moment that must be grasped so that we can promote significant changes, not just to our democratic society, but to the evolution of humankind.

We need to share our creative capacity, get together, and peacefully participate. For it is through our continued resolutions and our kind but constant actions that we will determine the future of this great nation and of the world.

In this new year, let us all resolve to spend more time reflecting together. And when we forget our kindest selves, and when others forget theirs, let us pause and regroup. Let us remain dedicated to the dignity of all people, and let us come together to increase our shared wisdom.