Many of us toasted 2018 with resolutions for improving our everyday lives, focusing on losing weight, eating healthier, and strengthening our close relationships. But what if we departed from the standard pledges and instead made New Year’s resolutions that cater to the soul?
Think about it, if we all made just one soulful promise and kept it, we could move our society much closer to a compassionate, caring one. Our spiritual people power could go a long ways towards countering the hatred spewing form Washington.
Here are a few soulful practices to consider for your New Year’s resolutions:
Practice random acts of kindness—give your place in the checkout line to a mother with small children; mail notes to family members to tell them what you value about them.
Smile more—Smiling releases endorphins, uplifting you and those around you.
Volunteer—Most communities have a list of organizations needing volunteers; google your city and names will pop up.
Reach out to someone you know who’s lonely.
Join a community organization that’s committed to social change: helping immigrants, the poor, battered women, and the homeless.
If you’re white, read up on white privilege to address your racism. (A good place to start is with the eye-opening book, White Rage, or the blogs, Black Girl in Maine, and Black Agenda.)
Practice forgiveness on a regular basis. Often forgiveness is called for when we find ourselves angy with another. Try to see their perspective, forgive them, and move on. Shedding anger towards another can be liberating. (Qualification: anger in the form of righteous indignation is essential for social movements like #metoo.)
Keep a gratitude journal—Commit to just ten minutes a day to record what you were grateful for in the day that’s ending. Gratitude before sleep has been found to improve sleep.
Practice compassion towards others and towards yourself. (A visualization can help here. When I’m down on myself I imagine a spirit like the Great Mother holding me and reassuring me of my worth.)
Build fun into your life. Fun and joy coexist. Allow time for playing with your kids or grandkids. Watch silly films. Choose activities that make you laugh.
Typically New Year’s resolutions fail because they’re too ambitious. To avoid this outcome, select just two or three practices from my list, or from you own. Better yet see if you can get your partner or a close friend to commit to the same resolution(s) as a way to keep you both motivated and where you check in with the other on your progress or slippage.
Be gentle with yourself. If a week goes by where you’ve neglected to put your soulful pledges into practice, let it go and start anew.
You can augment your soulful resolutions with inspirational readings like The Book of Joy, Hope in the Dark, and daily email reminders like “A Network for Grateful Living.”
Dark times call for beacons of light. Each one of us can shine our light into the darkness.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.