We’re a few weeks in to 2015—How’s it working out for you? At our house, we finally took down our Christmas lights and garland and put them away. I found myself reflecting on advice I’d heard
New Year’s resolutions—which ones to make, how to make them, and even whether one should make them at all.
The New Year brings on the excitement of new endeavors, the taste of possible victory in making these resolutions stick. But there’s also the drudgery of trying something new, leading to all out defiance in the face of our annual change-making tradition. It’s clear that New Year’s Resolutions result in a mix of hope and anxiety. And maybe it’s this combo that trips us up on our way to improving our lives.
So, how do we get there? I have one recommendation: Good Lighting.
Good lighting is incredibly important. Just think about how when you’re getting dressed, taking a photo, decorating your home or just reading a book, you’re constantly adjusting your lighting. Not enough lighting creates shadows and lack of clarity. I once scared myself when I saw myself in my car’s rearview mirror after putting on my makeup with too-low lighting in the room. I looked like I’d had a collision with Sephora!
But then, excessive lighting can be considered pollution. It can drain us. Office lighting is an intense, buzzing, fluorescent glare, and it makes us squinty eyed. Hello crows’ feet! (I’m working on loving mine, but that’s another story.)
And, as much as lighting can affect us on the outside, lighting changes us inside, too.
I like to think about my inner light as an internal compass guiding me through each day. I believe this inner lantern is a connection to God. It’s the key to guiding us in our purpose, our transformation, and our peace. We all come equipped with this lantern. It’s what brightens when the ball drops at midnight. It’s what glows when we gaze in to someone’s eyes. It is what lights up when we look at a newborn baby. It’s what shines when we make it to the top of a mountain or cross the finish line in a race. For many of us, these events are the only times we connect with this powerful feeling of love that emanates from this connection with God. And we end up spending our whole lives searching for that feeling, not knowing that it is in us all along.
So how do we keep that awesome feeling after the ball drops? I’m the first to admit that it can be very tricky to combat personal resistance, family resistance, and lack of support from friends or at work.
First, I think it’s important to address our own personal fear, which comes in the convenient form of ego. The ego is very crafty and great at disguising itself as our inner light but the truth is that it can’t hold a candle to our God connection. How can you tell which is which? When you’re doing something new, your ego is automatically against change. The voice of ego says things like: “Who are you kidding?” or “This is a ridiculous idea.” It tells you, “You can always start tomorrow.” The most challenging part of combatting your ego is that in many cases the ego’s voice is almost subconscious—we don’t even hear it. We just feel that anxiety, resistance and hopelessness that I talked about at the beginning of this post. And these are just some of the feelings that are part of the fear toolbox that our egos use to keep us right where we are.
The second thing that can derail us is the litany of egos that surround us in our daily lives: friends, family, colleagues and others we encounter. These people might ask, “Why bother?” Or maybe they’ll say stuff like, “Lighten up!” And while these comments may be come from a place of good intentions, I think that these sentiments miss the mark. The truth is that if we feel an internally motivated desire to make a change, then it’s worth pursuing. Discouragement is often a sign of another person’s personal limitations, perhaps motivated by his or her own deep fear of change.
Each day as you awaken, before you get up to get dressed, I recommend checking in with yourself. Is there anxiety or excitement? In a fast-paced world like ours, it’s easy to process these feelings negatively and bail from plans that would send us in a more positive direction. Don’t ignore the feelings—use your self-check-in as a way to acknowledge them. Anxiety is a signal to turn to your inner light. It’s like walking in to a dark room: Not knowing what’s in that room can make us hesitant, even fearful. But as soon as we shine a light into the room, and see that there’s nothing there that can harm us, we can move forward. Our egos and the naysayers might be angling for negative attention. Engage and say, “I hear you, but I’m going to do this a new way.” Turn on the good light this year, and be prepared to shine on!