At the New Year, it is common for us all to think about the past, present and future and make “resolutions”, things we hope that we can do differently in the new year.

A yoga teacher I had in class this past week had an interesting comment about resolutions. She said she doesn’t like to make resolutions because if we resolve to do something that we don’t exactly do (which is quite common as we all know), we feel badly and feel like we failed. Instead, she suggested we all make “intentions”. I loved that. Because if we have intentions and we don’t completley fulfill them, we don’t fail, we just continue the process and try to fulfill our desires.

Starting a new year is always a good time to take stock of our lives. What is it that we’d like to work on within ourselves? what can make us better, kinder and more compassionate people? Are there specific issues that we feel are problematic that we want to change? Are there people in our lives that we haven’t spoken to and feel like we want to re-conect to? Are there people in our lives that we want to work on making amends to or forgiving? Holding on to bad feelings, anger and hostility only make us unhappy. They do not effect the person to whom we feel the anger, but they deeply effect us. Isn’t that silly?

One way to work with these feelings is to be mindful of how we are feeling, especially when we are upset or angry. If possible, it is helpful to notice where we feel these feelings in our bodies, and consciously breath into those places. Feeling angry and upset is a tense, unhappy feeling which none of us really want to feel. If it is possible to let go of those feelings, even for a few seconds and just be aware of the present………where we are at the moment, are we sitting down? feel the seat; are we walking somewhere? look around, maybe just look up at the sky and see the sun and the clouds and be in the moment, instead of our thoughts. Connecting to the present moment can give us a break from the upset feelings and help us distance from them, in the process of letting go. It really can work, try it!

Some people are in the middle of a divorce, or dealing with aging and sick parents or other “normal” transitions of life. We have to deal with what we get. Life is not particularly fair and we have to accept the cards we’re dealt. The people who are the happiest are the ones who can accept their situations and go with the flow. As the Buddha says, suffering happens in the world and our task is to learn to deal with our suffereing.. Bad stuff happens all the time and the people who are the happiest see the glass as half full. They are able to find opportunity in adversity and feel gratitude for what they have.

My intentions this new year are to work on being more in the present and be a kinder more compassionate person and practice more gratitude. Will you join me?