Around this time of year, there are many messages of self-transformation. Some are inspiring reminders that each year, each moment, is a new beginning. Others, less helpfully, tap into our insecurities, the things we dislike about ourselves, and offer up an image of a better future - "A new you!" This version of self-transformation depends on dissatisfaction with the present. It suggests that to be happy, we need to become a new and different person than we already are.
I'd like to offer an alternative:
What if we started this year, as we do our MBSR classes, by saying, "There is more right with you than wrong with you"?
What if, instead of a to-do list of resolutions, we each told ourselves, "I am enough"?
What if, instead of striving toward an imagined future, we listened to the very centre of our being and asked ourselves, "What is it that I really want"? What matters most deeply, in this moment?
From this inner listening, we might find our truest intentions, "the noblest aspirations of our heart" (Ajahn Pavaro). This year, I invite you to stand firm, honouring what matters most deeply to you. For me, right now, what matters most is connection - to the world around me, to the people I love, to my own good self. I invite you to join me, standing firm in our noblest of intentions, following them with great patience and self-compassion, remembering we are not alone.
Hannah Marsh is a consultant with the Mindfulness Institute.ca.