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Complementary Corner

New Yearís Intentions

Renee Lehman

(1/2013) A friend recently gave me a book mark with the quote by Robert Byrne, "The purpose of life is a life of purpose." Reading this made me think about how, at this time of year, we tend to make New Yearís Resolutions. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word resolution originates from the root word, resolve. This means to solve a problem or issue. How many of the following resolutions sound familiar? "Iím going to start working out 5 days a week, and lose 25 pounds by summer," "Iím going to quit smoking," "Iím not going to eat at fast food restaurants," "Iím going to cut out sugar from my diet." Wouldnít you say that the previous statements and many New Yearís Resolutions deal with changing "bad" behaviors or habits?

Many people start the beginning of the New Year with one or more resolutions, and are determined to be successful (it is reported that 45% of Americans make resolutions). However, most people ditch their resolutions within a few weeks (only 46% keep their resolutions for more than six months), and only 8% of the people who make resolutions are successful at achieving their resolutions (All the above statistics are from the Statistic Brain, 2012 Statistic Brain Research Institute). How has falling short of achieving your resolutions ever affected you?

I am writing this article because I believe that it is important to set New Yearís Intentions instead of Resolutions. Setting an intention is very different than a resolution. How, you ask?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word intention as the determination to act in a certain way or to act with a purpose. It originates from the Latin word, intentus, an act of being eager, earnest, or attentive. What is the difference between a resolution and an intention? It is very subtle, yet powerful. It is what is FOCUSED on.

With a resolution, you can be focused on the "bad" behavior/habit that you donít want to do anymore: smoking, the fast food restaurants, sugar consumption. It would be like me saying to you, "Donít think about an elephant." So, what are you thinking about right now? Yes, an elephant! Setting resolutions this way perpetuates your thinking about the "bad" behavior/habit.

With an intention, your focus is shifted to "who you want to be," and "how you want to be" in the present moment, and every moment of your life. Your focus, and thus your purpose, comes from deep within yourself. For example, "I intend to learn something new every day," I intend to become financially secure over the next year," "I intend to speak kindly to my spouse," "I am willing to eat 4-5 servings of fruit and vegetables/day." Remember the quote by Mahatma Ghandi:

"Be the change that you wish to see in the world."

A Taoist principle that deals with an intention on how to be in the world is: to act in a way in which you Honor Your Grandparents and Serve Your Grandchildren. In Buddhism, one of the Noble Truths teaches the intention: cause no harm, and treat yourself and others with loving-kindness and compassion while seeking true happiness (that which comes from being free from grasping and clinging).

Based on your intention(s), you can begin to make goals to help you achieve your intention (based on who you really want to be). Try the following steps:

  1. Decide who you want to be or how you want to be.
  2. Write your intention where you will see it frequently throughout the day. Say your intention out loud to yourself.
  3. After you wake up, and before your feet hit the floor, consciously state your intention for the day.
  4. Watch your thoughts. Are negative thoughts clouding your intention? Gently observe them, and be aware that they could be creating a detour from your intention. Can you turn the negative thoughts around to diminish them? Your thoughts then create your language.
  5. Watch your language. Remember to use the word "AND" instead of "BUT." The word "BUT" erases everything said before it. The word "AND" includes everything said before it.
  6. Stop complaining. A wise person once told me that a complaint is an unstated request. So, make the request, you will have less to complain about.
  7. Tell a friend, family member, or co-worker about your New Yearís Intention. Allow someone to give you encouragement and affirm who you are. Who doesnít like to have someone in your "corner?"
  8. Keep your eye on your intention, and your true essence. You will be able to handle all of the speed bumps, potholes, and road blocks that may show up on the road ahead. The road that you are on IS the road that you are meant to be on.

Hereís to your New Yearís Intention(s)!

Hereís to a New Year of being true to yourself, and expressing your authentic self!

The Universe is waiting!

Renee Lehman is a licensed acupuncturist, physical therapist, and Reiki Master with over 20 years of health care experience. Her office is located at 249B York Street in Gettysburg, PA.  She can be reached at 717-752-5728.

Read other article on well being by Renee Lehman