Mindful Resolutions to Help You Grow (Rather Than Stress You Out)

Written by

Kristen Vandivier

9:00 am
12/30/19

PHOTOGRAPHED BY BRIDGET WOOD

Every New Year, people are quick to form rarely-kept resolutions that end up just adding stress to an already stressed-out season. But what if it’s not the concept of the New Year’s resolution that’s the problem, but rather the resolutions themselves? This year, as an alternative to the common goals of getting fit, organizing your space, or making more money, consider making a gentle intention that prioritizes self-care and acceptance. You know you’re on the right track if after setting the intention you feel empowered and optimistic as opposed to inadequate or incapable. Below is a list to help inspire you:

I will be kinder to myself.
Let this year mark the end of beating yourself up. Some people think their out-of-control inner critic is a source of motivation, but it simply adds to your stress, which in turn holds you back. When you hear that familiar negative voice in your mind chime in, simply notice its presence then place your attention elsewhere. I, personally, place my attention on something bigger and outside of me, like on someone who needs my help. It reminds me the world needs my contribution, and I don’t have time for self-diminishing thoughts.

I will slow down.
We’ve all gotten ourselves in a big hurry. Part of that has to do with the common misconception that being busy equals success and part of it is just the nature of modern life with its constant, shifting demands. Give yourself permission to slow it down this year and take a pass on things that don’t excite you in order to make space for what does. If it’s not a “YES!” then let it be a no.

I will listen to my heart.
Often, we hear our intuition telling us which way to go but our head gets in the way. We start making pro and con lists instead of heeding our inner voice. It can be scary to trust that voice, especially when it doesn’t “make sense,” but if you have faith that your heart is in tune with the bigger picture, move in that direction and the evidence that it knows best will start piling up.

I will favor process over perfection.
In the outcome-oriented society in which we live, most of us feel like we are failing a good part of the time because we are not “there” yet. But there is no “there” there. There is no holy grail of happiness on the other side of achievements and goals, just more goals. The truth is we are all evolving, and it is a process. Perfection is actually the enemy to evolution because, with perfection, there’s nowhere to go. Wherever you are in your evolution is simply where you are on the ride. As long as you realize this and keep moving, the ride can be a joyful one.

I will go outside of my comfort zone.
Most of us are stuck in the ever-repeating known. The same thoughts we had yesterday, we have today. The same patterns of behavior from years ago still come creeping back. The same habits, the same routines, the same decaf coffee with one sugar and a splash of almond milk. It’s a common misconception that the known is where we are safest, however, this is actually stagnation. The unknown is where you will find yourself feeling most alive and creative. This year, look for areas you can break out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s a new route to work, or a different way of reacting to your partner, or simply a new perspective.

I will stick to a self-care practice.
There’s a saying that the best time to take proper care of yourself was twenty years ago, but the next best time is now. The trick to sticking to a practice, whether it’s meditation and yoga, or daily hikes in nature, or even a weekly meet-up with friends over a bottle of wine (sure, why not?) is remembering to prioritize how you experience life on the inside over what you experience on the outside. And then make your practice non-negotiable. For me, I was always falling off my meditation practice until I decided to become a teacher. I figured if I was going to teach the stuff, I had better do it regularly. Nothing changed other than the mental shift to make it non-negotiable, and suddenly it was like the time opened up on its own.

I will help others.
One of the most uplifting experiences we can have is lifting up others. It is, in a way, the best kind of self-care as well as the antidote to the stressful times in which we live. It doesn’t have to be volunteering at a charity organization, it can be simply putting quarters in expired meters or smiling at the barista who messed up your coffee order. Whatever you have, whatever your gifts, see if there’s a way to turn them into an opportunity for giving back. The experience will grant you more joy this year than losing weight or organizing your closet ever could.

Kristen Vandivier is an instructor of Vedic Meditation and the founder of The Vedic Method and Meditation Without Borders

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