This is the season for fresh starts, resolutions, and good intentions. Many of us rush to fill our New Year’s clean slate with wishes and hopes for something better this time around. And then, as so often happens with humans, we who are imperfect, things fall apart. Life gets in the way, and we get bored. We get busy. We get tired.

I’m in no way immune to humanity’s love of a “do-over.” I’ve been thinking about the year just underway, and what I want from it. What I hope for. But I know myself, and I know what a challenge making changes is for all of us. (It takes many weeks for a new behavior to take root, with false starts and breakdowns along the way, and inertia is a powerful force — ask anybody who’s studied physics.) So rather than looking for a specific behavior, or activity, that I want to add to my routine this coming year, I settled on qualities that I want to embody.

A quality is a way of being in the world, and it can show up in a lot of different situations or contexts. For example, if “patience” is the quality one wants to develop, it is possible to live patience in many different ways. In line at the bank, listening to a friend who’s having trouble at work, learning to knit… the list of situations goes on and on.

For me, the beauty of this approach is that it builds success. If we’re less than patient at the bank today, we can be a little more aware of that the next time we go to the bank. We can set the intention to be patient before we’re even in a situation where we’d like more of it. And once we integrate patience into one sort of situation, it’s much more accessible to us in our daily lives. We can look for other ways to live patience, one context at a time.

Now it strikes me that you’re probably wondering what qualities I’ve chosen. I’m happy to share — it’s a short list, but I think it’s rich and juicy with possibility: trust, truth, and joy. These are qualities that I have always had in me, but that have been battered and diminished recently. I want to bring them right back into the foreground of my life this year, and I intend to look for opportunities, both big and small, to live them.

So, no resolutions for me. But a new way to be in the world? Oh, yes! Starting right now.

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