As the old year comes to a close, it's tempting to judge the year that's ending, and ourselves. We see the past year's mistakes, imperfections, and shortcomings. We focus on the new year, how we we will do 'better,' work harder, be more worthy.
But wait, let's be present, making space to see ourselves (truthfully and compassionately) as we are right now.
Consider these questions. . .
What brings you joy? Is there something you know about joy today that you didn't know a year ago? Where does joy show up in your life? Are you waiting for the big, 'special' joys or have you discovered some everyday, simple ones? Take some time, make a list of 5 joys in your life.
What is new? You aren't really the same person that you were a year ago, are you? What's visibly new? Your haircut, a new baby, an empty nest, a new job, a loss? What's new on the inside, something other people don't know about until you share it? A fear that you've been carrying? An attitude? An intention? A dream? Is there something new about you that surprises you?
How are you stronger? Maybe this is easy to recognize or maybe not, but if you search within yourself, I think that you'll find ways you've grown stronger. Have you grown more able to recognize your shadow side? More brave in working with it? More disciplined in how you express your feelings? More willing to feel those feelings? More present with things (in yourself or in the world) that trouble you?
How are you a different parent? Forget for now the parent you 'should' be, and recognize the parent you are. Is there something to celebrate? Something to enjoy? Something to love?
Who has changed you? Reflect on those teachers who have helped you to grow stronger, wiser, more compassionate. Remember what Pema Chodron teaches, "Difficult people are the greatest teachers," recognizing even the stealth teachers.
As we come to the end of the year, I wish for you the same thing that I wish for myself. I wish us the ability to see clearly and lovingly who we are, the inner truthfulness to see and celebrate our beauty, the courage to see and transform our suffering, and the loving presence to be in this moment just as it is.
I'm a mom, wife, daughter, friend, and teacher who has long struggled with the desire to be the perfect person I imagine that I should be. Practicing mindfulness has changed my life, helping me to make peace with myself as I truly am and to appreciate my family, life, and the world as they actually are.