Are resolutions really what we need?

During the late afternoon of New Years Eve I spent a very happy couple of hours as the honoured “last visitor of the year” in an enormous Portuguese art gallery; wandering around its majestic rooms displaying a not inconsiderable collection by local painters. The work of one artist in particular caught my attention – Henrique Pousao – who in his very short adult life, produced a vibrant body of work inspired mostly from his travels in Italy over just a couple of summers. The detail of the many landscapes, people and moments he captured was compelling. Just as the artist must have been completely in the moment to record his observations on canvas with such intent; this in turn enabled me, the viewer to become totally immersed and focused on his experiences of 19th century rural Italian life.

With calls of “Boa Ano Novo!” by the convivial staff, I left the gallery as it closed for the holiday with the feeling of being both incredibly uplifted and rejuvenated by my experience.

Soon afterwards I read an article by the ever inspirational Wayne Dyer - suggesting that we replace New Year’s resolutions for “changing the way we think”, and most importantly to live as much as possible in the moment. Having just had such a powerful experience of consciously living in the moment and being acutely aware of the benefits of this, I could see where he was coming from!

After all, aren’t so many of us guilty of forgoing the pleasures of enjoying day-to-day living by allowing our minds to dart between past events and future plans or concerns? Surely if it's possible that our minds can be significantly uplifted by that more important bit in the middle (i.e: the present) we will be in a far more resourceful state to deal with challenges as they happen; most of which are hugely inflated in our heads anyway!

So, whether or not you’ve already broken your well-intended resolutions - which after all, are often made whilst in ‘holiday mode’ when it’s easier to imagine they are achievable before old habits creep back in under the scrutiny of a normal routine - here are a few thoughts about making 2015 a year for creating and sustaining the life you would like to live:

1) Make a promise to yourself to consciously improve the quality of your life every day by focusing on and therefore enjoying the present - whatever you're doing. This will start to have the very positive impact of diminishing worries about the future, dwelling on the past and pointless over-thinking. Starting the day with some simple mindfulness meditation is a great ‘detox’ for the mind, helping you to stay more ‘present’ throughout the day.

2) Replace resolutions stated in the negative (ie: "I must stop xxx") with one or two realistic goals stated positively. Write down the outcome – end result – that you want to achieve and the impact it will have on your life. Display this, record it, say it to yourself repeatedly until your brain starts to believe this will happen. Work out the steps you need to take to reach your goal and try to do something small every day towards this - aiming to be very consciously aware of what you're achieving in the moment that it happens. Almost all goals are achieved through a series of small steps (occasionally backward!) rather than one giant leap. 

3) Feed your mind with healthy, inspiring stimulus, by making a decision to explore new things on a regular basis. Visit art galleries, the theatre, read books, take walks along paths you’ve never been down, and visit new places. The more your mind is stimulated and expanded in a positive way, the more life can be enjoyed. Therefore creating the best possible foundations for the changes you want to make happen.

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