Beyond Resolutions: Cultivating Mindfulness in the New Year

by Tracy McShan

The new year offers us an opportunity to take stock of the past and plan for the future. Many people use the turning of the year to set New Year’s resolutions. After years of facing my own quickly-abandoned resolutions, mostly in the form of exercise equipment, memberships to health-focused classes or apps, and other such “personal-improvement” pursuits, I’ve abandoned the practice of setting new year’s resolutions altogether. Instead, at the beginning of each year, I now set an intention to cultivate more mindfulness in all aspects of my life– to wake up to what is and stay present to life as it unfolds. Sometimes this intention takes the shape of a single word or phrase, like “be present” that I connect to each day.

This New Year, I’ve set several smaller, more specific intentions such as daily mindfulness practice, mindful eating, mindful work, mindful relationships, and others that I’ll explore in this post.

As I approached these intentions for 2024, I sought inspiration from the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT. Some suggestions resonated with my desire for a more mindful year. Here’s a glimpse of the intentions ChatGPT suggested for the upcoming year:

Mindful Living:

  • Present Moment Awareness: Cultivate the habit of being fully present in each moment, appreciating the richness of your experiences without being overly preoccupied with the past or future.
  • Conscious Decision-Making: Make decisions with intention, considering how they align with your values and contribute to your overall well-being.
  • Mindful Relationships:
    • Active Listening: Engage in mindful listening during conversations, giving others your full attention without being distracted or formulating responses in your mind.
    • Empathy and Understanding: Approach relationships with empathy, seeking to understand the perspectives and emotions of others.
  • Mindful Self-Care:
    • Holistic Well-Being: View self-care as a holistic practice that encompasses not only physical health but also mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
    • Savoring Moments: Take time to savor enjoyable moments, fostering a sense of gratitude and mindfulness in daily life.
  • Mindful Goal Setting:
    • Intentional Goal-Setting: Set goals that align with your values and contribute to your overall sense of purpose. Instead of rigid resolutions, focus on flexible and adaptive intentions.
    • Celebrating Progress: Acknowledge and celebrate the progress you make toward your goals, recognizing that the journey is as important as the destination.
  • Mindful Work and Productivity:
    • Focused Attention: Practice single-tasking and give your full attention to one task at a time, promoting deep focus and reducing stress.
    • Balancing Work and Life: Strive for a balance between work and personal life, recognizing the importance of both professional success and personal fulfillment.
  • Mindful Practices:
    • Meditation and Breathing Exercises: Incorporate mindfulness meditation and breathing exercises into your routine to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being.
    • Mindful Movement: Explore mindful movement practices such as yoga or tai chi, combining physical activity with mindfulness.
  • Mindful Reflection:
    • Regular Self-Reflection: Set aside time for regular self-reflection, considering your thoughts, emotions, and experiences. This can enhance self-awareness and support personal growth.
    • Learning from Challenges: Approach challenges with a mindset of learning and growth, understanding that setbacks are natural but can be valuable opportunities for development.

I quite like this list and from it, I’m going to adopt mindful self-care, mindful work and productivity, and mindful reflection as part of my intentions for 2024. Additionally, I will  add the following intentions that ChatGPT didn’t mention: mindful eating, mindful speech, and mindful social media (consumption and posting).

Mindful work and productivity is a particularly attractive intention to me because it’s an area of opportunity for me and one in which I have challenges balancing. It’s easy for my work to take on an outsized role in my life and edge out other intentions. When I’m not intentional about balancing my work, my self-care suffers.

Mindful reflection is part of my regular practice. I’d like to make it a daily practice.

Mindful consumption of food, social media, and TV is something I’d like to work with in 2024. All of these things enrich my life in some ways– either as entertainment, diversion, or by connecting me to friends and family. Or in the case of food, as sustenance and enjoyment. I’d like to be more mindful of the role these things play in my life in 2024 and observe the feelings that arise when I rest an awareness on my consumption of these.

And finally, mindful speech is something that I try to adopt each year. Because 2024 is an election year in the United States, and because I have a diverse group of friends and family, and also because I engage in social justice volunteerism, remembering my intention to practice mindful speech will help to keep me grounded and connected to the person I want to be and not get carried away by strong emotions– or worse, act or speak on impulse.

So that’s my list of mindful intentions for 2024. These aren’t goals, resolutions, or expectations. I won’t track them and I won’t feel guilt or shame when I get busy or distracted and forget about them or act in ways that are counter to these intentions. I will let these intentions be gentle suggestions to remind me and reconnect me to my intention of living a more mindful life.

I hope the new year offers you the opportunity to reflect on your intentions and if one of those intentions is mindfulness practice, that we see you in a class or a retreat in the new year. Wishing you health, happiness, and mindfulness in the new year.

-Tracy McShan, Mindfulness Teacher
Content generated with the assistance of ChatGPT, a language model developed by OpenAI.

 

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