Resolutions Cannot Take the Place of Practice

Japanese teaby Gregg Krech

It may not come as a surprise to hear that New Year’s resolutions don’t work – at least for more than 90% of those who make them. You’ll hear a lot of discussion about how to make better resolutions: write them down, be specific, make them realistic. But this doesn’t really address the more fundamental issue.

What we need is the self-discipline to make changes in the way we are living. And most of us are living a feeling-centered life, rather than a purpose-centered life. No matter how skillful we are at making resolutions, this fundamental issue remains. As long as our lives are tossed to and fro by the tides of our feeling states, we remain relatively incapable of doing what we say we will do.

In order to make important changes, we need to shift to a more purpose-centered life. Living with more purpose isn’t just about keeping a few New Year’s resolutions. It’s about putting our energy toward what truly matters and making wise and conscious choices about how we use our time. And it’s about taking action. It really takes a lot of effort to keep our lives well-managed. Most of us would like to get our lives to a place where things are organized and stable, but life itself is working in the opposite direction. Life inherently promotes instability and disorganization.

I’ve been studying and teaching Japanese Psychology for the past twenty-five years. Unlike most of Western Psychology, the ideas underlying Naikan, Morita Therapy and Kaizen draw from the wisdom and principles of Eastern Philosophy. There are really four key skills that we can all learn to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life. These skills work alongside the laws of impermanence and the chDew Dropsanging nature of life. The skills are:

1. Acceptance
We must learn to accept much of life on its own terms because much of life is beyond our control. This includes our internal experience (thoughts, feelings), our past, and the behavior of other people.

2. Co-existing with Unpleasant Feelings

We have to learn to take action in a constructive and appropriate way even when we don’t feel like it. This is the essence of self-discipline.

3. Attention
Our experience is based on what we pay attention to. Most of us put very little energy into developing skillful attention, but it can change the way we move through our lives as well as the experience we have moment to moment.

4. Self-reflection
Our relationships are generally what we most value about our life. But relationships get strained and can often be filled with conflict and stress. The ability to reflect on ourselves is the key to maintaining healthy relationships, as well as cultivating a general sense of gratitude for all we have and for our life itself.

To develop these key skills we need to make a commitment to practice. Practice means we are devoted to incorporating these skills into the very fabric of daily life. They become part of our spiritual lives and our excursions to the supermarket and bank as well. Without the development of such skills, New Year’s resolutions have very little value, even if we manage to achieve them.

If we build our lives on a foundation of mindfulness, gratitude, compassion and purpose, then we have a sense of guidance in our lives, with meaning woven through our days. This is inherently fulfilling. We can think about goals and accomplishments for the coming year, but they cannot replace the development of a solid foundation based on sincere and ongoing practice.

Join Gregg for the 2017 Living on Purpose online Course which starts January 12, 2017.  For more information contact:

linda@todoinstitute.org

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Author Bio

Gregg Krech

Gregg Krech Author, Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-reflection (2002)| Author, A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness (2004, 2011)| Author, A Finger Pointing to the Moon (2000)| Editor, Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living (1993-Present)| Director, ToDo Institute (Vermont) (1992-Pr......

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© 2017 The ToDo Institute serves as a meeting place between east and west. By blending Japanese approaches to mental health, known as Morita and Naikan, we provide an approach to living well that bridges the gap between the spiritual, the psychological and the practical. | All Rights Reserved.

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