The New Year Pause
The New Year prompts much discussion around resolutions and goal-setting for many people. But I view this time of year as an ideal time for questions not answers. The winter and lull after the holiday rush provides a quiet space for reflection. I strip away my holiday decorations, clean and minimize clutter in my household. And I tend to want to do the same for my mind. What clutter do I want to clear away? What do I need to let go of from the past year to start fresh this year?
First I ask a few fundamental questions about who I am and how I choose to live and let them hang in the air for awhile.
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Here are some of the questions I’ll be asking myself. Perhaps these will help you reflect too?
- What values are most important to me and how am I living them? What values do I want to live more fully?
- What gives me the greatest sense of meaning and fulfillment?
- How do I want to contribute to others?
- What are the most important lessons I am trying to learn?
- What qualities do I admire in others that I want to cultivate in my own life?
- What relationships are challenging me the most? How can I better understand them and be compassionate about where those individuals are in their lives? How can I make the most of our relationship by learning from them?
I am also sharing below some of my most treasured books that challenge me, inspire me and provoke reflection.
The Adult Years – Mastering the Art of Self-Renewal by Frederick Hudson
This book, more than any other, clearly defines the various stages of development for adults. It helps readers draw from their own inner wisdom to guide their reflections before making decisions about major changes or life directions.
Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges
William Bridges spent his life working to understand changes. Whether you are going through the birth of a new baby, a move, a job change or the death of a loved one, this book explains in simple yet brilliant terms how any person can understand the emotions they are undergoing, help ease the transition and launch a new life.
Brene Brown, through her research and writings, puts complex concepts into practical, everyday terms helping individuals embark on their own hero’s journey. In this book, she teaches how to face down fears, guilt and shame to live with courage. Most importantly, she helps people become who they really are capable of being.
Written by a poet and philoshoper, this day book provides endless wisdom and is a regular source of reflection for me. Drawing from cultural stories, mythology and his own personal experience of surviving cancer, Nepo provokes thought and raises ethical questions for consideration.
So reflect, question and read during this winter pause and have a happy New Year!