The Key to Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution: Fascination

Photo credit: Tanja Mamas

My home gym is not only a space I go to work out in the mornings, but also a place to give my mind some space — a different type of space to reflect, ponder, and plan my day. A new addition to my home gym is not a fancy piece of exercise equipment, but a simple dry erase board. On it, there are three sayings that I find helpful to think about in the mornings. They give a nice perspective on a better way to approach your New Year’s resolutions.

1. Better is Better

More is not better. Better is better. It’s important to remember that quantity is not the goal, in working out or in life. Twenty poorly executed pushups are less beneficial than five done with care and proper alignment. The saying “Better is better”, simple as it is, fascinates me because it says so much about the human psyche. Our society seems so often to advocate for more, more, more. We can do less, but if we do it better, we’ll see better results.

Now this for me is all about one thing: Fascination. If I have a secret to my life, it is that I pursue what fascinates me. For something to really, really fascinate me, it must be something I really, really believe in.

Along with fascination, I pursue my beliefs with absolute focus. Just this morning my daughter asked me to check her math homework for her. As usual, when she began reading a math problem, I stopped her. I told her that I need to have control of my mind when I do math… (i.e., to read at my own pace and rhythm). As I usually do with my kids (sometimes eliciting a roll of their eyes), I elaborated on the point. I told her that she needs to be able to take control of her own mind in life. That is called focus.

So if you want my suggestion for a New Year’s Resolution: Find something that really fascinates you. See what is in it that you believe in. And then focus on making it so in your life. Belief and fascination are the fuels of passion and progress.

This time of year, a common resolution is to exercise and get healthy. That is not enough. Why do you believe in your resolution? The usual answers are to lose weight, look better and feel healthier. But that is not enough to sustain the motivation. To make it stick, you will do well to find the fascination in your resolution. Whether it’s a fascination with how the human physiology works, a fascination with how your psyche works in relation to it, or whatever it may be that fascinates you about it. Find that fascination.

Only then are you ready to take control of your mind and focus. Fuel your fascination with research. Get excited about what you are learning.

2. Earn It. Mean It.

One of the best known stories from the Mahabharata is the churning of the milky ocean. It tells of how, after an extensive battle between them, the Asuras (beings out of harmony with nature) and Devas (beings in harmony with nature) engaged in a tug of war to try to get to the nectar of immortality. By tugging on a serpent that was wrapped around a mountain, the Devas and Asuras rotated the mountain, which churned the milky ocean. This churning back and forth is what eventually loosened treasures from the deep, including the nectar of immortality.

Opposition is an essential part of personal growth, not a detriment to it. Just remember: Forward, forward, always forward. Just remember that life is a string of failures as you pursue what you believe in. Do what it takes to accommodate YOUR process, whether it be working with your timing, your tendency to avoid, figuring out what does motivate you, etc. As you work with opposition, you earn your desired outcome. Artfully working with opposition can be the secret to success.

3. Let’s get serious.

I read an article recently about habits. The idea was the neurons in the brain become linked so that when one fires, the other automatically fires as well. This conditions your mind to function a certain way and is the source of bad habits. Freeing up the nervous system is the way out of this. I call that clearing the samskaras, the programming of how you function. The best way of doing that is through proper meditation, which you can learn for free here.

Now there is a New Year’s resolution for you: meditate regularly. But hold on here. First get clear on why you really believe in meditation. Perhaps it is because it helps free you from any and all bad habits, or it helps with personal and spiritual growth, or it helps you achieve total health, or it helps you de-stress… there are many reasons to meditate. Be specific. Then find your fascination with it. Get curious. Lastly, focus, and do whatever you need to do for your psyche to keep it going. Maybe even a dry erase board will help to inspire you. But the most crucial element of whether your New Year’s resolutions will be successful or not comes down to whether you stoke the flames of your fascination.

Dr. Michael Mamas is the founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity through the integration of ancient spiritual wisdom with modern rational thought. From personal issues to global trends, Dr. Michael Mamas helps individuals and organizations develop a deeper understanding and more comprehensive outlook by providing a ‘bridge’ between the abstract and concrete, the Eastern and Western, and the ancient and modern. Dr. Michael Mamas has been teaching for 35 years (including the U.S., India, Europe, and Canada), offers free online Surya Ram Meditation instruction, and writes on a variety of subjects on his blog, MichaelMamas.net.