Forget twelve-step programs, it’s three-steps for me just to get out of bed and “take on the day.” Let me explain.
Step 1. Morning Pages. I’ve been faithfully practicing this since I started, say fifteen years ago. The program as taught by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way is a spiritual life-saver. Can’t recommend it enough.
Step 2. Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Daily meditations and the keeping of a gratitude journal start each day off on the right foot (i.e. attitude).
Step 3. A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Journals. This is a new one for me. I’ve added these gems from his journals because, like Anne LaMott, I find Thomas Merton “an incredible source of light and comfort and humor.” And although neither Anne nor I are particularly Catholic, I’m sure that she, like me, is pleased as punch with Pope Francis. And so on January 1, 2014 I added Thomas Merton’s meditations as the third step in getting out of bed, and haven’t missed a day yet.
When so many New Year’s Resolutions go down the drain, maybe we have been calling them by the wrong name. What if we thought instead of having aspirations? Let’s look for something desired, rather than the medicinal taste “resolution” leaves in our mouths. I mean, who even uses that word anymore? And we’ve all been around enough to know that, year after year, a resolution is never really resolved. Cynicism becomes us.
What if, instead, we were to be gentle with ourselves and grow what is working? Expand on what we are doing well. Do more of it. Piggyback complementary habits to it. I’m just thinking this might make all the difference in the world.
I had the first two steps going, and all I had to do was add the third. This is what I mean by piggybacking. Habits are learned through practice, and the best way I’ve found is to strap a new one onto a trusty old saddle. And let them go riding out together…
But please don’t call it “resolution” or you’ll never get anywhere. Call it desire, yearning or longing. Call it aspiration, leaning, longing. Call it something you would want. Then maybe on this second week in January we would not only remember what it was we had vowed to do, but we could be practicing it.
Just know that in my case, it’s taking half the morning to get out the door to, you know, take on the day.