It’s a brand new year

Gretchen Rubin is writing a book about happiness, aptly named The Happiness Project. Her blog chronicles her experience and thinking as she writes the book.

Happiness is a fascinating subject, zen-like in its paradox. To wit, happiness is not something that can be sought and obtained directly, rather it’s a byproduct of a fulfilling life.

From my life’s experience, happiness is enabled by living in alignment with my core being. And that requires discerning who I am and what I aspire to be, my essence. Hold that thought.

This being the first day of a new year, it’s tradition to establish a list of resolutions, those new and good habits that we want to adopt to improve our lives. It’s also tradition that we take on too many self-improvement goals, whose half lives are often much less than 30 days. Magazines, book stores, the web are full of self-help strategies for how to make the changes stick — truly, I mean really, this year will be different.

My point is not to denigrate New Year’s resolutions. I believe in self improvement and the power of possibility and transformation. I would much rather try and fail than to live in cynical inertia. However I can’t resist poking a bit of fun at the whole self-help phenomenon in our culture.

In contrast to New Year’s resolutions (either instead of or in addition to), Gretchen Rubin suggests in her blog that we write a list of personal commandments, or values, to guide our lives. This ties back to the point of living in alignment with our core being. The process of writing a list of values is a great way to discern who we are, connecting with what various authors have described as the small voice inside or our heart of hearts.

Aspiring to live according to core values makes a great New Year’s resolution and, in my experience, helps enable happiness. Here’s my list, along with a photo from my summer’s travels. It’s an apt metaphor for my hopes for life in the year to come.

My Guiding Values

  • Be authentic
  • Act humbly
  • Show kindness, compassion, respect
  • See the big picture
  • Live purposefully
  • Do what’s right
  • Make a positive difference
  • Be ever grateful
Hiking the high Sierra
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