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I’ll try to keep this one short. Don't have time? Skip to the TL;DR version at the end. No one should have to read a long newsletter in the final week of 2020.
Do you ever feel a bittersweet longing at the end of a year? Perhaps an excitement, or a lull between Christmas and new year’s eve?
You don’t need me to tell you that 2020 was no ordinary year. So many of us have felt lost. Some lost friends or family. Felt exhausted by work or looking for it. We all longed for a change, a breakthrough.
It’ll be 2021 soon. Some people do “resolutions” well, I don't. This isn't about that. Instead, let's talk about what we really want to become next year. Maybe this post will help 🙏
Deep within your heart, who do you want to become?
Perhaps you have a vision for yourself, but won’t say it out loud.
I beg you – please do. Define it in detail. Write it down. And then say it again.
I spent days thinking about this, and enough time beating myself up over failings: missed opportunities, wasted time, poor choices, same old blah.
Self pity gets boring after a while. It has kept me stuck in a loop. Finally, I decided I was going to finally become willing to change.
So I wrote a vision for myself. Here’s part of it:
To become a forgiving person
Easy-going, friendly, helpful, supportive
Not reactive, nor easily offended
Not driven by hidden, unconscious urges
Aligned with constructive principles
I forgive myself for not being all that today
The idea is rather simple. Not focussing on the doing or having, but just holding in mind that which we wish to become.
Do you know what our vision is really pointing to? Our inner greatness.
Here’s how we can get there.
The first step is courage
Are we willing to admit what we are,
what we want,
and what’s holding us back?
Set an intention
Do you believe in new beginnings? Each day is one (any recovering addict will you that). Actually, each instant is one. Each moment we decide to be different is as good a beginning as any other.
Our intention sets the course to where we wish to go. It’s what activates our willingness to stick to it.
Dr Hawkins clarifies this and more in an audio lecture. He says:
“Intention isn't trying, it's allowing.
It’s allowing yourself to be that, by removing that which is not what you want to be.
As you move up, that which is below where you’re at… becomes unacceptable."
So by declaration and committing to a goal to a way of life, we prioritize choices.
The more we choose of something, the more we are likely to choose of it.
— David R Hawkins, “Emotions and Sensations” April 2004
“We picture ourself as being that which we wish to become. We visualize a trial run, practicing the process mentally, going through every movement, just as athletes do.
Let’s say, we want to picture ourself as becoming forgiving.
Instead of trying to fight our resentments, we picture ourself in a really great state of consciousness.
We look at that person and say, “Oh the heck with it. How could a person like that be any be better? No schooling, no education, no mommy, no daddy, etc.”
The more we choose of something, the more we are likely to choose of it. And it's less likely that we will choose to hate this person. It's more likely we’ll try to understand and forgive.”
So, we picture ourselves as capable of that which we wish for ourselves.
We make a declaration to live by a commitment to our goal: e.g. to be loving towards life, to be grateful towards life.
So instead of resenting what we don't have, we have gratitude for what we do have.” — Dr Hawkins
First things first 👉 progress matters over perfection
What that means: we’re not going to be relying on will-power, guilt, blame, shame, etc. That we aren’t good enough. That we ought to know better.
We will remind ourself of our vision as often as we can, until we don’t have to consciously do it any more.
Every night before we go to bed is a great time.
So is the morning as we wake up, and before we jump into the day.
When we fail and forget, as we sometimes will, we can simply bring ourself back to it.
Gratitude is a great antidote to resentment. It’s impossible to be angry and grateful at the same time.
✍️ Three good things is a simple but great exercise to open up to gratitude, and it just takes a couple of minutes every day to do.
I wrote in an earlier post about behaviour and organizing principles:
We set a desired intention, then make a decision to act on it repeatedly.
We become aware of the obstacles that show up, and try to create conditions that align with powerful organizing principles. It doesn’t take an enormous amount of will-power.
As James Clear writes:
“Changing your beliefs isn’t nearly as hard as you might think. There are two steps.
Decide the type of person you want to be.
Prove it to yourself with small wins.
Want to become a better writer?
Become the type of person who writes 1,000 words every day.
Small win: Write one paragraph each day this week.
Want to become strong?
Become the type of person who never misses a workout.
Small win: Do pushups every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.”
Q: What small wins would you like to achieve?
“Mindfulness is like watching your compass to check: am I still on course?” – Dr Hawkins
It has to do with inner honesty. Some spiritual traditions call it taking a personal inventory.
The Big Book of AA (a pathway for overcoming addictions) defines it this way:
“A business which takes no regular inventory usually goes broke. Taking a commercial inventory is a fact-ﬁnding and a fact-facing process.
It is an effort to discover the truth about the stock-in-trade. One object is to disclose damaged or unsalable goods, to get rid of them promptly and without regret.
We did exactly the same thing in our lives. We took stock honestly. We searched for flaws in our make-up which caused our failure.”
One day at a time
Mindfulness is developing our self-observations skills.
In practice, as far as we’re concerned, it can be about taking a couple of moments to pause, take a breath, and ask ourselves:
How do I wish to be present today?
What’s on my mind that I’m ignoring?
Did someone or something bother me today? Did I have a part to play in that?
What am I grateful about?
When to do it?
In the morning
During the day
at the end of the day
Please don’t let the sound of it daunt you :)
It’s easy once we make a decision, and it gets easier as we prove it to ourself with small wins.
For example: I realized that the time I habitually spent on the phone was bothering me (and my family), so I did a little experiment in tracking it every day for a month.
Surprisingly, it worked. If someone like me can do it, so can you.
TL; DR: Vocalize your intention
👉 Step 1. Just sit down and write what comes to mind.
What do I want to become?
E.g. I want to spend free time without my phone
I want to get back to playing the guitar
I want to learn Polish verbs
Thinking it out loud really helps
👉 Step 2. Reminding ourself of our intention.
Does it make us feel positive? Does it uncover something else?
We can create a morning routine that fits into our life – nothing too complicated:
A little notebook or a sheet of paper by the bedside
Maybe a text document, or daily reminders on the phone
Record voice memos and email them to ourself
👉 Step 3. When we find ourself drifting or failing at something, we gently bring our attention back to the present moment.
Think of one small thing that I could do today, which take me a little closer to what I want to be
Do I want to spend another hour scrolling on Twitter or FB or Instagram?
Do I want to eat a bunch of cookies right now?
Can I put leave my phone somewhere where I won’t have to pick it up all the time?
👉 Step 4. Send big love to the future you.
Picture yourself capable of that which you wish to become
Energise this picture of you with love, gratitude and joy 💛
Embrace it. Then let go of wanting or desiring or craving it.
That's it from me this year. Now, please savour the rest of this year with your loved ones 🙏 🌃🎇
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I’m so grateful for your attention. Hope you have a heart-warming new year ahead.
— Amogh (see you on Twitter)
P.S. maybe you’ll enjoy this. It resonates more than ever.