Every new year brings fresh contemplations. “This will be my year!” we shriek as the clock strikes midnight. We vow to drink less during the week and to meal prep on Sundays. We plan to spoil ourselves with more ‘me time’ and promise to prioritise ‘no’ in our everyday vocabulary.
Year after year we do this.
But are you really the answer? Less wine with myself doesn’t exactly stimulate an overwhelmingly positive outlook on life.
You don’t have to become better all by yourself. It’s a trap to believe that solo self-actualisation is easily attainable. Occasional or repetitive bouts of self-reliance or even slight self-obsession easily leads to negative states of mind. I mean, just look at all the damage the Instagram ‘likes’ functionality has done to our self-esteem over the years! The antidote to around-the-clock me, me, me ‘scaries’, says the Dalai Lama, is compassion. Which literally means “to suffer together.”
He notes that “If we shift our focus from ourselves to others and to the wider world, and if we turn our attention to all the crises in the world, all the difficulties and the sufferings and so on, we will see that many of these problems are direct or indirect consequences of undisciplined negative states of mind.”
This doesn’t mean you have to suddenly become Lady Diana. But disciplining/distracting a negative mind via a range of small, but smart tactics (of your choosing) could edge you closer to becoming the better, best you, you intended for in 2023 - and beyond.
Through compassion and the celebration of others, we pity ourselves less, we obsess less about our own shortcomings, how we’ve been overlooked at work or how we’ve been slighted in relationships. Things are no longer THE WORST for us, but better because we’ve drowned our sorrows in a pool of positivity. The tactics I’ll try:
Inviting people over/along. Broaden your group, include people you know are new at work/at your workout group to join in for hikes, picnics, breakaways. Even just invite people into your conversation at a party when you see they know no one. The more the merrier might not be a saying that resonates with everyone but inviting one person over or along at a time could add new friends and fresh perspectives to your and their lives.
Make a fuss over someone’s engagement or birthday. Remember that it’s not about you. If no one ever makes a thing about your birthday, then do it for someone else. If you had a failed engagement, celebrate someone else’s. Ask people about their wedding arrangements, even when you know the Save The Dates have long gone out. You never know how much someone might be going through in other avenues of their life, so make milestone moments count.
Stop pointing out why you’re right and your partner is wrong. In some situations you just have to ask yourself what the point is. Why bring up the past, again? Why dig and dig when it could easily just be something that you can bid farewell and park forever. Compassion could sometimes mean just shutting the hell up.
Greet people, even when you know they won’t greet you back. Greeting people you don’t know has been normalised in most of the Northern suburbs, but in Cape Town it’s still very jarring when a stranger nods in your direction. Being acknowledged is fun, so why not do it?
- Ask for others’ advice. Admit to yourself that you don’t know it all and that others have value to add in all situations. People like talking about themselves, and this is not always a bad thing. Be humble enough to find value in the lived experiences of others and see how those learning could inevitably help guide some of your decisions and fast-track your way to reaching your goals in 2023.