God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.(Serenity Prayer)
New Years is a good time for being intentional about self-improvement, and to reflect on what we can change and what we can't. A quick google search revealed that the top ten most common New Year's resolutions people tend to make are: get organised, help others, quit smoking, quit drinking, learn a new skill, get fit, lose weight, get out of debt, have more fun and spend more time with family and friends. Many of them remind me of past resolutions well kept and not so well kept. One year I wrote down everything I planned to do before I turned 30 and methodically went about achieving them. Last year I lost ten kilos, went on a yoga retreat by myself, started riding my bike again and completed more postgraduate studies. This year, I thought I would be courageous and share the "adventures" I plan to embark on, and it seems there is something for the mind, body and soul!
Firstly, I plan to be more deliberate about how I nurture my mind. With studies out of the way, I can choose my own sources of mental inspiration. One friend likes to send me links to songs or movies that he thinks I might like. It's nice - gives us something to discuss later, and reminds me that I'd like to do more sharing of inspirational and thought-provoking music, books and movies. So my plan is to join a book-club or movie club so I can get ideas for interesting reads or films and talk about them with others afterwards. Also, I've booked two tickets to see the wise and beautiful Archie Roach in concert!
Nurturing the soul is just as important for me. Many inspirational figures such as Gandhi, Jesus, and the Dalai Lama have talked about times of retreat and stillness that nourish them so that they can go out into the world to be and act. We all need time to reflect, meditate or pray in between times of intense being and doing. So I plan, yet again, to develop some kind of regular spiritual practice, whether it ends up being meditation, yoga, or reading. I might enrol in a Quaker Learning course. Whichever way I go, I have chosen serenity as my aspirational quality for the next few weeks. I plan to get better at accepting the things I can't change in life, and taking more time to smell the flowers.
So, how will I ensure that I keep these resolutions? Perhaps the fulfilment of these goals will be a bit like the sunflower that I photographed in our garden late last year. The first step is to plant the seedling and tell people it's there. Then encourage everyone around to water and nourish the goal, letting the sun shine on it. And hopefully one day it will open into full bloom and sing out to me that with a little courage, serenity and wisdom great things are possible.