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Why New Year is More Than Just a Date

Fireworks
Fireworks

Image: Stuart Miles / www.freedigitalphotos.net

 

Social networking sites seem to have neared breaking point today as individuals and organisations flooded their pages with posts and updates bidding farewell to 2014 and welcoming in the new year. I myself spent considerable time reviewing and sharing posts that I came across whilst browsing.

But why the almost universal obsession with the new year? You only to have to witness the ever-increasing size and quantity of new year firework displays to realise that New Year is deeply significant to most of the population of our planet.

And yet, as some wit observed, most of our universe, including the non-human wildlife on Planet Earth, continues its existence blissfully unaware of this key milestone in our annual calendar cycle.

‘Happy New Year.’

Why? Was the old year particularly sad? Is the past full of regrets, failure and unfulfilled dreams? Does ‘new’ necessarily mean better – like the ‘new and improved’ that regularly appears splashed across the packaging on products we’ve been buying for aeons?

The fact is that human beings are naturally dissatisfied: we can always see how things can be better – including our own lives. Dissatisfaction is a good thing – if it spurs us on to improvement. But not if it results in cynicism or spiralling disappointment. We will never attain perfection but perfect is always a good thing to aim for. It inspires us, it motivates us, it draws us onwards and upwards.

And so to the new year – and why it’s good for the soul.

It does us good to take stock, to review, to reflect, to re-assess, to re-align, to re-focus. The new year gives us a valuable opportunity to look at where we are, where we need to be – and what next steps we should take to move in the right direction. This naturally involves looking backwards as well as forwards. With an objective viewpoint, most of us should be able to work out some clear actions we need to take this year – either to stop, change or maintain some aspect of our lives. People have been calling these ‘New Year Resolutions’ for centuries, if not millennia: the ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.

Practically, there are some simple steps to making, and keeping, new year resolutions:

Firstly, write down specifically what you want to do and why. For example, I want to lose two stones because it will improve my health and well-being.

Secondly, tell someone who cares about you what you’re gong to do and why: this will help to keep you accountable – they will hopefully keep checking up on you!

Thirdly, just start doing it – one small action to start with – every day. It apparently takes just 21 days to form a habit so, by the end of January, when everyone else has given up on their new year resolutions, you’re well into the swing of keeping yours.

As well as the three simple steps to achieving your goal, there are also three simple words:

YES – YOU – CAN.

So, New Year really can be more than just a date – it can be a step, a giant leap, or even a turning point.

I wish you a truly happy and successful new year, starting now and continuing for ever…

 

 

 

 

Yesterday I was clever and wanted to change the world

New Year 2014
New Year 2014

Image: www.bechaini.com

As I write this on New Year’s Day, 2014, people everywhere are thinking about the future and about the coming year in particular – dreaming, planning, hoping, expecting. If truth be told, we all want change. We want change because we are dissatisfied with the way things are, because we know things can be better, because we have seen – or we can imagine – better.

How many times have you heard someone say that they want to change the world? Have you ever said it about yourself? What does that actually mean? What do we mean by ‘world’ and what do we mean by ‘change’?

Change involves doing something positive to effect desirable outcomes.  However, fear, self-doubt and resistance to change can actually hinder the very change you desire. And the prospect of changing the WORLD is enough to raise doubts in the mind of anyone.

Whilst discussing this some time ago, a colleague with a wry sense of humour commented that if he was to change the world, he was going to have to start with his sock drawer. At the time, we laughed heartily but I’ve never forgotten his words because of the truism contained within them. To change the world, you have to change YOUR world.

 

Several great thinkers, world-changers themselves believed the same:

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, a 13th century Persian poet better known as, Rumi, said:

Yesterday, I was clever and wanted to change the world. Today I am wise and I am changing myself.

 

Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi famously espoused:

We must become the change we wish to see in the world.

 

Mother Teresa reflected:

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.

 

Some might pale at the thought of effecting change in the world. However, how else is change to happen? The anthropologist, Margaret Mead, is convinced that it really is down to us as individuals:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

 

And The Dalai Lama observed, perhaps pithily:

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.

 

And consider the alternative of NOT seeking change:

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.

(cited by Anthony Robbins but attributed to both Mark Twain and Henry Ford)

 

Happy New Year – be the change you want to see in the world…