In Pause First

For most people, the primary obstacle to successful New Year’s resolutions is stress. You might assume that the resolution-killers are laziness and lack of discipline. But at the heart of any resolution – the firm decision to do or not to do something – is change. In a society resigned to maneuvering the comfort zone on autopilot, change is stressful.

Why is change so stressful?
When a person decides to make a lifestyle change, the decision alone can cause stress. People resist change because change demands effort and can be scary. It requires making new choices and taking a leap into the unknown – a departure from the comfort zone. All of this can cause stress.

What is the solution?
Standard New Year’s resolutions include losing weight, eating healthier, getting in shape, and getting organized. If a person chooses to resolve one of these issues, it’s because they want to be other than what they are. They want to be thinner, healthier or tidier. They want change.

So, their current reality is causing stress, because they want to be other than what they are. And the thought of change is causing stress, because it represents leaving a comfort zone and stepping into the unknown.

So, what can a person do to avoid staying stuck?

If you want to make lifestyle changes this year, and you’d like them to sustain, try choosing meditation as the foundation of your resolutions.

Meditation is a daily exercise that brings your awareness to the here and now, thereby plucking you from the dark murkiness of the past (where you created all of your bad habits and comfort zones) and sheltering you from frenetic anticipation of the future (where the unknown looms large). The simple act of checking into the present moment can reduces stress, because fretting about the past and worrying about the future are stressful practices.

Another benefit of meditation is that it cultivates mindfulness. Mindfulness is a condition of full awareness in the present moment. It’s a state of being. Developing the ability to focus your attention in this way can help you accept where you are and identify where you want to go. It can promote mental clarity. This skill can help quiet the inner voice of doubt and self-sabotage, and clear a path to new decisions, choices and behaviors.

Change, then, becomes something you allow, instead of something you avoid.

Happy New Year
Change can be stressful, but it can also be empowering, and it can lead to a healthier, happier life. Let this be your year of change! Resolve to reduce stress and allow change by making meditation the foundation of your New Year’s resolutions.