on redemption, resolutions and willingness
It's that time again. Light being born from the darkness. Bidding farewell to the old, and welcoming the new. Hopes of change and better things to come.
Watching three versions of Dickens' Christmas Carol' this year (my fella has a penchant for feel-good Christmas movies… and, yeah, it's contagious) caused me to meditate a little more deeply on the whole redemption thing. Turning one's life around, and using one's closely hoarded gifts for the good of all.
But not without initial resistance. "I'm too old. It's too late for me…" was Scrooge's claim to the spirits. And that made me further contemplate our own typical reasons for staying stuck in the bud: our beliefs about our circumstances, our abilities, our worthiness, our hopes for salvation.
I think one misleading feature of the film (though, being a story, requires a neat wrap-up), was the miraculous, overnight turnaround. Scrooge gets a tour of consequential Christmases from beginning to end, witnesses his own demise, and Ta Da! he's a changed man ... forever and ever amen.
That's a lot of expectation to live up to, and we do try. We set our goals, often losing momentum after a week or two, after which we proceed to write the story about why we still are the way we are.
I find it very interesting that as I was drafting how to share what I've learned about our innate biological resistance to change so as to help you be a little more compassionate with yourself - several other folks have been currently offering the same words in different contexts.
Like Mark Silver (owner of 'Heart of Business') for example. When asked what big dramatic changes he had planned for the New Year, he references a famous business book in which the author states that "...sudden, big radical changes were often associated with failure..."
In fact, in Mark's own experience, "…breakthroughs were rarely because of a big, sudden, radical shift. They mostly seemed to come because the timing was right, and I kept doing what needed to be done, in my heart and in the world."
And this makes way more sense. Back to biology … nature is highly efficient and economical. Habits - good or bad - once adapted, stay in place because it takes a whole lot more energy to change them. We attribute our failures to become more organized, lose weight, stop smoking to our lack of willpower, or discipline or worthiness. That's between you and your soul, of course, but don't rule out that your own physiology has adapted. Over a long period of time. The body doesn't judge. It simply obeys the repetitive choices of the mind and molds itself around what we do the most.
You may have heard that all the cells of our body are renewed every seven years. Not all at once, of course. Different tissues have their own turnaround times, and within tissues are varying generations of cells … each reproducing the next… the quality of which can be slightly healthier or slightly less so, depending on our daily life choices. This is a very simplified observation, but I hope you get the general idea. Every decision we make affects the whole on some level, but can take a looooong time to come to fruition.
Here's another analogy. You're on a ship in the open sea. You would only need to turn a degree to the left or right (Sorry. Port or starboard.)… an imperceptible shift from your current standpoint, but be assured you will end up on a completely different shore eventually.
So, what do I want to say to you? Or remind myself of, as I get that irresistible urge to make over my life this time every year?
Again, I like Mark's words. "If you’re contemplating big changes or resolutions this year, take some time in your heart before committing, and consider whether you’re already on your path, and you just need to keep walking forward, in love."
Yeah. I forget how far I may have already come. (Reading over old journals and to-do lists can help. Or be a little sobering. Best to approach with a sense of humor.) And I appreciate what I've learned from Danielle LaPorte - how to identify the core desired feeling state as the goal and as the measure. Kind of like orienting to the north star - high and above the forest I tend to get lost in due to the damn trees. Reminding me that the particulars may not be what I set out to achieve, but, alas! I may have already arrived at the joyful feeling state I was seeking. (VERY cool when that happens..!)
Last thing. I am a firm believer that God blesses the willing. Saying (and meaning) 'yes, here I am...' may be the only thing on your resolution list you are able to check off. But I will say it's the most powerful. It's the turning of a degree. The raising of the sails. It will open you up to help from all corners of the universe, beyond what you could have foreseen for yourself.
So, what do you think? Where are you going from here? How far have you already come? What guideposts have you missed on your path to joy because you expected them to look differently? What are you doing... every day... that 'needs to be done, in your heart and in the world?' Where is your willingness?
Have a Happy New Year.