Why Do We Make New Year’s Resolutions?

Quan Yin in her Glorious Imperfect Beauty

Quan Yin in her Glorious Imperfect Beauty

What is the nature of a resolution? What does it do for us? Do resolutions prove to be effective? Do New Year’s resolutions assist our growth and evolution in the way that we hope?

Usually resolutions are designed to help us improve in one way or another – to assist us in cultivating healthier patterns and habits. We often resolve to quit something or take-up something new, something we think will benefit us. Commonly, the subject of resolutions have to do with simple changes in behavior. We resolve to eat more healthfully, stop being so impatient, or late to appointments. We resolve to exercise more, do more yoga asana, meditate regularly, start a pranayama practice,  or maybe, quit drinking coffee. You get the point.

Why do we do this? Is it helpful to look into the past and the future to plan our moment to moment behavior? Somewhat, yes. We do learn about how our actions in the world affect our experience of it. However, obviously, because these resolutions never hold, there is an inherent problem with them.

The problem is that all of the behaviors that we would like to alter, actually take place in one moment after another and involve some kind of outside-in control. “Don’t do that” or “Do this”, we say to ourselves until around January 20th by which time we have totally let go of our plan.

By then we have added the extra- great bonus of feeling bad about ourselves when we don’t succeed with our endeavor. Perfect set up for increasing the suffering around our own recognized unwholesome patterns.


Start where you are in each moment. Pause for a few seconds to recognize the vibrating mix of awareness and life-force that you are sitting in. Let that be the field from which you make a decision…in that exact moment about what action to take. Then do what you want.

You may be surprised by what you “want” to do.

Try it.

One thought on “Why Do We Make New Year’s Resolutions?

  1. I am a long time practitioner of ‘no resolutions’. Yearly I resolve not to resolve! It really takes the pressure off. Thanks for the reminder, Patty.


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