5 Simple Steps to a Better 2014

Resolutions will fail. Here's something easier and better

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New Year’s resolutions focus on mere symptoms — overeating, lateness — of our disconnection from ourselves and others. They are bound to fail. But this time-tested method — taken from the best traditions of self-help — can turn your 2014 into a genuinely more meaningful year for you in all areas of life. Here are five simple steps.

1. Try being a little kinder
Toward the end of his life, the 20th century novelist and spiritual journeyer Aldous Huxley was asked by a reporter to name — out of all the Eastern philosophies, psychedelic experiments and human-potential exercises that the British intellectual had attempted — the one best method for inner development. “Just try being a little kinder,” he replied. Huxley wasn’t being glib — he was entirely serious. Christ, the Buddha and the Talmudic sages alike recognized kindness as a revolutionary act.

(MORE: The 10 Best Self-Help Books You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of)

2. Be unsparingly honest about personal goals
What if a genie promised you a wish, but with a catch: you had to tell him the truth about what you really wanted — otherwise you’d lose everything. We internally repeat what we want to believe about ourselves (“I enjoy my work”) but rarely with self-scrutiny. Make a list — every day — of what you truly, deeply want out of life. Revise it repeatedly, until you feel you are being unflinching honest about your desires. This doesn’t mean becoming Walter White, but you should know what you really want. You may be surprised where it leads you.

3. Radically forgive even cruel people
Nelson Mandela did not bring justice to South Africa so much as he brought forgiveness and reconciliation. The thirst for justice often translates into vengeance, which is life withering on both a national and intimate scale. Observe New Year’s Day in a radically new way by making an authentic effort to forgive everyone — yes, everyone — who has ever hurt you. If you can honestly attempt this — and it may require a lifetime of repeat tries — you will begin to experience a new sense of inner calm.

4. Express gratitude daily
As Joni Mitchell sang, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” These words are prophecy. We bypass incredible blessings each day. After actor Christopher Reeve was rendered quadriplegic in an accident, he observed: “I see somebody just get up out of a chair and stretch and I go, ‘No, you’re not even thinking about what you’re doing and how lucky you are to do that.’” Every morning — no matter what stresses you face — enumerate at least three things for which you are grateful. It will set your day on a different track.

5. Commit to civility
We live in an era of “global cooling,” in the words of therapist Piero Ferrucci. A stifling degree of cynicism and coarseness abounds in e-mail, texts and postings. Humiliation, gossip and snarkiness emanate daily from reality TV, political talk shows, and radio shock jocks. Take one radical stand: Commit yourself to civility in all communication. Compose every text, e-mail and posting as though it were addressed to someone you love. The effects may go beyond anything you would expect.

15 comments
gratefullyw
gratefullyw

Thank you for this very positive article.  They all make sense, but I consider the 5th (about committing to civility) as something that struck me the most.  One of my senior management officers in the institution I work in once told me, "Try to be good to people and see the goodness in them, and you will go a long way."  

BrettCloyd
BrettCloyd

Being kind to one's self has also been helpful to me. I think it has helped me be kinder to others. Sometimes we are our own worst critic.


RealitySchmeality
RealitySchmeality

Garrison Keillor's long-standing advice: "Be well, do good work, and keep in touch."

Ilsa1
Ilsa1

Try to be impartial and describe all sides of a picture in fair unbiased way. Don't let the subjective personal views of your photographers distort reality or give only a partial picture

Ilsa1
Ilsa1

Try to be impartial and describe all sides of a picture in fair unbiased way.

1776sfpatriot
1776sfpatriot

Instead of reading about eastern philosophies, have you ever read what Jesus said? Keep the 10 commandment, love and forgive thy enemies, be humble, work hard and with integrity whether you're an employee or a CEO, and many other ways of living the good life which brings joy and blessings.

But remember, your good deeds and earthly success DOENST change or affect where your soul goes when you die. "From to dust to dust. From ashes to ashes..." Is where your earthly things will go. But your soul needs a home. Jesus is the only way to heavenly eternal life. I know it's hard to accept intellectually. But intelligence isn't always that of being well informed. Leaning on your own understanding gets you no where when it comes to thinking you can be your own savior.

If you're ever wondering or in need, ask Jesus to come to your life and to help you. He will come to you. And when He does, you WILL know it is Him. Peace be with you.

Autherine
Autherine

Be honest with your self about what you want out life and what you are willing to give back to society.  Gratitude and service are the keys to growth.

squelchuk
squelchuk

As far as I'm aware, it isn't shown on UK TV, but doesn't Ellen DeGeneres finish her talk show each day by saying something along the lines of, "Be kind to each other"?

haehc
haehc

i have always known this but only realised its importance 

Joanna_Zajusz
Joanna_Zajusz

I agree, especially with no 1. One year in the past I made this exactly me goal. To be nicer, kinder, and drop the smarty pants remarks just to show that i'm right. This changed so many things for the better. And particularly -maybe that's the most important as a motivation for someone who is considering it - it made me FEEL BETTER about myself. 

GeneralE
GeneralE

All human activities are to make better good generation's quality also making better the good systems.

okayfine
okayfine

It's a series of interesting assumptions that is expressed: that most people are deluding themselves & treating others abysmally. It's sort of a sad world view masquerading as a positive world view. Nevertheless, the advice is sound.

PapaFoote
PapaFoote

The Old Mountain Goat knows about this - just "5 Simple Steps" can "change your mind" for ever!