New Year Revolution

Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Institute


Revolution – a turning or momentous change.
Resolution – a commitment, promise or end point.

The problem with a conventional approach to New Year’s resolutions, I’ve found, is that when we examine them closely, they are often superficial changes in behaviour which turn out not to be sustainable i.e. we don’t stick to them!  It seems to me that this is because the underlying causes of the behaviour that we wish to change have not been established. E.g. Resolving to lose weight and being unaware of what it is about our eating habits that causes the weight gain, being unaware of the emotional content of our eating habits, health considerations and the role of practical and psychological obstacles to our progress.

What I’ve found to be more successful is to address the deeper issues associated with the behaviour we’d like to change first. This takes acute self-awareness and a willingness to commit wholeheartedly to our personal development.  The difference then between a resolution and a revolution for me is not about making a self-imposed, superficial commitment but rather it’s about how we want to be, who we want to become. The ‘being’ comes first, then the ‘doing.’

Some examples of revolutions might be:

Focussing : on self-awareness, kindness,  generosity,  tranquillity, peacefulness ,  patience.

Opening:  to kindness from others, listening deeply, simplicity, serendipity, insight, inspiration, revelations.

Allowing : slowness, stillness, experimentation, for the unexpected, flexibility, spaciousness.

If we want to’ be the change we wish to see in the world’ in 2012, to quote Gandhi, then looking at what needs to change on a larger scale might be a clue as to where our behaviour needs to go for us individually in the year ahead.

In his book, The Great Turning, which discusses how society can make momentous, life-sustaining changes, David Korten asserts that:

“The turning from Empire to Earth Community has two primary elements. First is a turning from money to life as a defining value. Second is a turning from relations of domination to relations of partnership based on organising principles discerned from the study of healthy living systems.”

The Great Turning is a perspective on how we collectively move towards creating a more sustainable society. What if we were to apply David Korten’s ideas on a personal level? If we were to make ‘life’ a defining value in our lives in 2012 in place of ‘money’, what would we be doing differently?

Perhaps something like…

•    Spending more time with our friends and families and less time at work.

•    Being very present with others when we are with them rather than still ‘at work’ or elsewhere in our heads.

•    Spending time in nature and some time alone in contemplation.

•    Taking steps to build or support local communities.

•    Taking steps to build or support local economies.

•    Remembering that our Natural Capital (children, families, community, ecological systems) is the real measure of our wealth and not our banking systems. Investing our personal financial resources in a way that supports this idea e.g. by banking with one of the ethical banks, investing money ethically, reducing our personal consumption and borrowing, dealing only with ethical businesses. The Ecologist offer this 4 step guide to bypassing the High Street banks.

•    Basing our working and personal relationships with others on equal partnership, rather than on command and control.

When we focus, open and allow, we turn naturally to new behaviours to support our re-evolving approach. As our attitude evolves, so do we. Suddenly the commitment of a resolution seems easy as it emerges automatically as a result of our personal turning or momentous change – our revolution.

Happy New Year!


7 Responses to New Year Revolution

  1. Jamie January 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    Happy New Year Sally! Please keep waking us up with your great blog :-) Peace,

  2. Rajani January 2, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    I follow your blog and this one is truly awesome – I was telling my own friends about something similar for not having resolutions, but I love the way you put it . Please do correct the spelling of Gandhi :).

  3. Sally January 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    Jamie and Rajani – thanks for your kind comments. Gandhi spelling corrected! (and thanks for pointing that out).

  4. Liz January 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Great post. I’ve been thinking along similar lines and more so today after watching a TED talk on what we eat and the effect of eating ever more industrialised meat. The cruelty to the animals of course, the methane gases, the environmental destruction. He talked about eating much less meat (or not meat at all preferably!) cutting our consumption by half. We eat things now we couldn’t comprehend eating at the beginning of the last century. That’s fine, but it’s a much bigger picture isn’t it? Over the last 40 years, perhaps even longer, we’ve been conditioned to think that money, status, things, even consuming your time more quickly and efficiently is the way to be successful and happy. It isn’t, and people are beginning to realise this now.

    But it’s going to be an uphill struggle isn’t it? How do we convince people that perhaps we can live with less than we’re used to and it will do wonders for us and the planet? That adopting a more traditional way of life, the family unit (whichever type of family unit that may be) , small scale farming, local produce, supplemented by home grown items, giving up the quick meals and meals on the go, not insisting on travelling long distances unless necessary, giving up the car or driving a lot less, giving up the package holidays etc will be a more wholesome life? Trouble is people feel entitled to it now, without thinking almost.

    Then on a larger scale we have rather un-progressive Governments that make the changes we want to see happen doubly difficult and in fact impossible for the poorest of us. Those who are homeless or living hand to mouth aren’t gonna be thinking of these things. It all seems set up wrong to me. Even my family unit, while we’ve made huge leaps forward in becoming a more sustainable, planet friendly family, we still are tied to the banks, the mortgage, not leading our lives as simply and as compassionately as we would like etc. You make a good point about ‘being’ first though, because we’ve discovered that that is where the real change comes from, not half fulfilled promises to ourselves. We’ve had to make sacrifices at least monetarily for the changes we have made. Though gained in many other ways! People are scared I think to live with less money, less junk, less stuff. That somehow reverting back to a more simplistic life is backwards and will end up with women slaving in the home again. I don’t think so, not if it’s done in the right way and an aware and egalitarian way. A society where families are supported (including single parents and those with disabilities and extra responsibilities such as care of an elderly relative). Redistribution of wealth, return to local small scale farming, good social housing, green jobs and sustainable jobs. If people are treated well, they feel a part of society, they are well, then society will be well. The opposite is obvious. But I speak to members of my family that still couldn’t let go of the idea that wealth and status is everything. They love us, but tend to think we’re a bit bonkers! I guess as Gandhi said and is mentioned above, ‘we have to be the change that we want to see in the world’. Nobody said it was going to be quick or easy. I feel a shift coming in our human consciousness, but I catch myself thinking dare I hope or will those short sighted and greedy win out again? Perhaps I should be more positive?

  5. Sally January 4, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    You seem to have expressed it in a nutshell there Liz. I agree with you that it can seem scary to face the prospect of living more simply when we’ve become so used to our ‘entitlements’, regardless of whether they are actually things that serve us best in reality. It can be tough too to be labled as ‘bonkers’ for having the courage of our convictions. What is important for me, I think, is that those of us who can see the sense in this continue to live our best lives in this way, with a focus on how we are ‘being’ and an eye on the bigger picture at the same time.

    It can be challenging at times to understand the motives of those in a position of power such as our Governments, but then maybe they do not have as much power as they would like us to believe. The role of large corporations and banks has been brought into the spotlight even more than usual recently and, as individuals and ‘consumers’, we have the choice over whether we collude with the less ethical companies to a great extent. Whilst our hands are tied on some aspects of our lives, there are still plenty of constructive and positive moves we can make, examples of which are given in the Ecologist article I quoted and which I hope some will find useful.

  6. Anna Gordon January 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    My Dear Sally – Bravo! For 2 weeks, I’ve been trying to write a post that expresses these very thoughts. What a wonderful surprise this morning to see that you’ve already written it! I’m now sitting here smiling with great contentment as I can just relax and enjoy my coffee. :)
    Wishing you a wonderful year filled with joy! Anna

  7. Sally January 9, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    Lol Anna! So that’s where the inspiration was coming from! Perhaps next time I’ll let you know what kind of post ideas I’m wrestling with and then it can be your turn to manifest them while I chill out!? Much peace and joy to you too.x

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