Japanese tea

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. So if you slip from your ambitious plan, you have lots of company.

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:

We are often driven by our feelings, rather than guided by our purpose.

No matter how skillful we are at making resolutions, if we allow our feelings to push us around, we won’t hold fast to our purpose.  We won’t do what we say we’re going to do.

If following through depends on how we feel, we’re not likely to follow through for very long.

But Japanese Psychology offers profoundly helpful guidance for those who want to make changes in their lives.  Here are four key skills that can help us to live more fulfilling and meaningful lives:

1. Acceptance
Since so much of life is beyond our control, this skill is essential for our wellbeing.  We can’t control other people, of course.   Neither can we control the weather, the traffic, the stock market, or the price of gas.  We can try to influence the external world, making our best persuasive efforts, for example, but we cannot control the outcome of our efforts.  We can’t even control our own feelings or thoughts.  We tend to overvalue our attempts to change what we don’t like and undervalue our capacity to accept what is.

2. Co-existing with Unpleasant Feelings

Learning to take action in a constructive and appropriate way, even when we don’t feel like it, is the essence of self-discipline.  With practice, we can learn to tolerate uncomfortable feelings, rather than needing to monitor and change them into more pleasurable feeling states.  We can learn to focus on what we are here to do, and allow our feelings to rise and fall, as they will.  We can coexist with our feelings, rather than being derailed by them.

3. Attention
Our experience of life 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. Too often our attention is on our selves — our feelings, our thoughts, our ideas, our plans and regrets.  This inner world can become a prison that prevents us from connecting and engaging with the richness and wonder of life around us.  Working skillfully with attention is one of the most profound ways of enhancing your life.

4. Self-reflection
Our relationships are generally what we most value in our lives, but they present us with some of our toughest challenges as well.  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. Self-reflection often humbles us and softens our hearts to the challenges of others.

Making a commitment to practice these four skills can have a dramatic impact on your life.  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.

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 Krech for the TAKING ACTION program which starts on Feb. 19, 2024.  Gregg is the author of numerous books, including The Art of Taking Action: Lessons from Japanese Psychology and is one of the leading experts in the U.S. on Japanese Psychology. 

For more information about the program contact todo@todoinstitute.org or call 802-453-4440.


Dew Drops



Please send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Choose what you're looking for easier.

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?