First and most importantly, Julie and I wish you happy holidays.
May you have an amazing New Year ahead.
A New Year of Great Change
- In this new year, many people might feel overwhelmed by all the political, social, and environmental changes our world is going through.
Taoist Teachings show that we are always changing. Times of change, are also the most powerful times to be alive: since we can use the energy of the times to help make any possibility (not just the negative ones) to be true and then thrive. So this is a time to flip everything around and make the world truly a new place: a place that will embrace both good and bad to be something new!
The very fact the world is changing so much, adds more energy into the possibilities of our own lives, to make a difference!
This not a time to give in to fear, but its time to live to your potential and express outward to your nature. The year ahead is what we make it be, so make it a great year, one step at a time.
So in a time of resolute change, remember we can make a difference, and that difference will be of a better world if we step towards a better world.
Working with Holiday Traditions
We might talk about peace during Christmas and New Year, and yet these holidays are often not peaceful at all. A tradition is an external story. Not everyone wants to hold the same story found within a tradition. We don’t have to accept a holiday as is; we always have the power to start new traditions or modify old traditions.
How to Change a Tradition
Change the Story
It’s possible to change the story behind a tradition. Look at how the story of Christmas has changed countless times. The current consumer story of Christmas is roughly a hundred years old.
How do you change the story of a tradition? Simply by creating a new routine for that tradition and consistently living to the new routine. People are creatures of habit; if you can stay true to a new set of routines for a holiday long enough, typically 3 to 5 years, it will become traditional.
Making a Holiday Personal
When you feel a tradition sucks, then it is your challenge to change that tradition’s story. You don’t have to change it for others, simply change it for yourself and family.
By Being Inspired by a Tradition
It’s always possible to use ideas from a tradition as inspiration for improving your daily life routines. Holidays are a time to pause in life. You can always use a holiday and its traditions as a time to pause and be inspired in life.
Releasing Conflict in Traditions
Think about how you will hold your stories during a holiday. Then compare it to how others shape that same tradition. Most everyone tries to force a tradition to meet their story or to some older unbending standard. In this, people fight over how to celebrate a tradition. When you get too many stories in play, then you will get conflict over which story gets air time.
It’s possible to regear your expectations and stories to better blend with other sets of expectations and stories.
Not every tradition serves you or the community. When a tradition doesn’t reinforce positive stories, it becomes time to release the tradition.
It isn’t easy to release social traditions since society will actively push participation back onto you.
Typically you have to release a tradition gradually over several years to avoid conflict. Each year you let go a little more, till the tradition is gets too watered down to support itself.
Keeping a Tradition Fresh
Don’t let the tradition become stagnant in routine. Every year you can add something new to replace something old.
Evolve Your Tradition
Use any frustration from a tradition as a chance to examine your own life and choices. Change the tradition to meet your needs in life.
For instance, instead of limiting yourself to one new year resolution, why not let each new day inspire you. To let each day be a new year.
Remove Toxic People
You don’t have to embrace toxic people while celebrating your holiday.
A toxic person is a person who undercuts your very essence. Minimize your interactions with toxic people in your life. A holiday doesn’t give a toxic person a free pass back into your life.
The Joy of Holidays
Take control of your inner peace by actively shaping your story
First, find peace by removing judgment of exactly how the tradition should unfold. Let the story be more open-ended rather than forced by your expectations.
Peace is about finding a story that makes you whole and flows smoothly to your nature. If you are unhappy, then it’s all about realigning the story. For example, as other people fight, step out to do some dishes just to let others expend their energy on their interpretations. Or do something useful on the side so when the fight is over you can help make peace easier. Don’t make someone else’s inner conflict your conflict.
Another trap is we assume we know another person’s story. This isn’t usually true. When people fight, they’re not usually fighting about the same thing! Get everyone to restate what is wrong if fighting is happening around you regarding the implementation of your tradition. The trouble with stories is we hold them in the heart and can’t see them directly. This means many people are blind to their own story! You cannot directly point out this fact, but you can show people side examples so they can shift their own story unconsciously. Try to find bridges to new stories. Don’t try to force a person to change their story. If you try to force a person to change their story, they will fight to the death. However, if you gently create a bridge to a new story and make it a playful exploration people will release old stories for better options over time.
New Year Resolutions
New Year was the one holiday my family would celebrate with the most heart. The other holidays were just marks on the calendar, but the new year was the holiday to let loose the old and refresh one’s life.
The power of a new year is the offer of a fresh start, new options, and a chance to begin new stories. New Year is the closest to a Taoist holiday we get in the western world. On this day, we are encouraged to dream and step closer towards our nature. I also suppose that’s why so many new year resolutions fail: all too many people make resolutions that try to escape stories that are more powerful in defining them than they realize. The resolution might be a good one, but people often have more than one story tripping them up.
If a person desires to have a sucessful new year resolution then craft it to work with your stories!
Every New Year is The Same
New Year comes rolling in upon celebrations for a fresh start.
Then it happens again. On the day after New Year, the world is still here. And yes: it’s the same world as yesterday. You’re again living in repeats as you get the repeat of yesterday’s problems because you drag the old stories with you into the new day. Almost everyone does this.
The new year isn’t about the days ahead. The day after is always about the cleanup, and so few people want to clean up. A new year is really about new actions!
The time to start a new story isn’t tomorrow. It’s today.
What actions will you take to grow? Understand that simply repeating how you live day to day only keeps the past moving into the future like a train wreck.
- Look to your feet, ask them: where should we go?
- Look at your hands and ask them: what do I want to make?
What action do you want to make real? Then let your feet be free so that they can walk you into a growing life again. Then power your hands to create something new. It’s hard work, and you must push into the new day, or you only get a repeat of yesterday, yesteryear, or whatever you were stuck within.
A New Year Every Day
People love the new year; we use the new year to symbolize a fresh start.
Why limit it to once a year?
Every day is a start of a new year, a start of a new life, Every day.
Most people are unsuccessful at their new year resolutions because they don’t release their old crap.
Humans love to hold onto every memory, all the pains, the full story they already experienced in the past. Because of this, people get stuck in living the same story every day, every year: to only live a single lifetime over a single lifeline.
No, if you want to live many lives, to discover many aspects of who you can be, you also have to be willing to change. This shifting also means to allow old memories to fade.
I am not saying you have to throw away everything. If you want to live a new life, then try living a new life every day, rather than every year.
Let me explain: To live a whole new year, you have to release an entire year of the past to make room for a new life. Most people can’t let go of that much crap at once. It’s too big a chunk at once to release.
The trick is to release a little of the old, each day, that we no longer need to be.
If you live a new year every day, you only have to release one day to make room for your new life today. Most people can release a day of memories or smaller problems. Not throwing away too many bad days at once (since otherwise, then you will repeat them for balance, that also gets old fast).
Happy new year. I hope over this next year; you discover 365 days of a new life. Each day expands into a full year in itself. It’s one reason in Taoist practice we age so well 😉 We are already ancient while still being young with a lifestyle like this. When done with style, It’s become a life that contains the best of all worlds, of all potentials of what we can become!
Some Assembly Required
Pulling it all together: I will make only one resolution: To make the world a kinder place, one day at a time. 365 days of kindness will go further than one big wish. Each day I help make a difference in someone’s life. Each day, I live fully, expanding into it to savor and enjoy. Each day a full lifetime. How can you not make a difference in the crazy world if you only live like this? Then when thousands of us do this, we use the energy of changing times to switch out a failing old-world society with something better.
Batteries not included; you are the battery with your actions.
A Happy New Year for 2020
Here in Hawaii, the new year is greeted by whales (kohola)! The Humpbacks migrate here from Alaska every winter, and the sighting of the first whale is always a special moment. A sign of the new year ahead!
We are all happy they are coming back safely. They give birth to their beautiful children here in late December and early January. For me, the whales have come to symbolize the new year more than anything. The video of the whale birth is from Jan 2019.
Julie and I wish you and everyone in your family a good new year.