The tide of the old year is ebbing, and the new one is rolling in. It is time, once again, for New Year’s resolutions: the best opportunity to rid yourself of those habits you know to be self-destructive, and to develop those that you know will improve your life.

Paramhansa Yogananda regularly wrote his students at this time of year, encouraging, supporting and strengthening them in their resolutions. Here is an excerpt from a 1937 letter:

Take all the salvaged treasures of good experiences from the sea of past experience and use them to buy new accomplishments in the New Year. In the garden of the New Year culture the seeds of well-planned new activities until they grow into fragrant flowering plants of diverse successes. Let every day in the New Year become a step upward on the ladder of your Self-realization. Make every day of the New Year a better day than the previous one for greater effort to succeed in business, family happiness, and increasing the ever-new joy-contact of God in meditation. The old year has gone, but the New Year is full of treasures for you to use.

New Years Letter by Paramhansa Yogananda

Nurture a new resolution long enough for it to grow into a “fragrant flowering plant.”

The real key is to nurture a new resolution long enough for it to grow into a “fragrant flowering plant.” This is where most people fail, and why you find those springtime ads that read, “Treadmill, nearly new, used only twice. Half price.”

We were told a joke by a doctor friend: A man comes to a doctor complaining about pain in his body. “Doctor, it hurts when I touch my knee. It hurts when I touch my elbow, or my jaw, or my forehead.” After an examination, the doctor says, “Your knee is fine, your elbow is fine, and so are your jaw and forehead. The problem is that you have a broken finger.”

So often, we neglect the underlying cause. The difficulty doesn’t lie with not exercising, or eating too much sugar, or not meditating enough. The problem lies with our will power: the creator and destroyer of habits. If it breaks easily, it is the finger that causes the pain in our life. When we strengthen it, we begin to fix all our other, more superficial problems. So, how do we bolster our will power? Here are five key ways:

  1. Take on only one or two things at a time, those that you really want to accomplish. I would suggest that you choose one physical habit, let’s say exercise, and one spiritual habit, such as meditation.
  2. Translate a vague resolution into a very specific action item: “I will walk (or meditate) for 45 minutes every morning.”
  3. Most importantly, stay with it long enough for the old habit to fall away and a new habit to form. Don’t allow yourself any “wiggle room” for at least one month.
  4. Find a partner who is trying to accomplish the same thing. You will help each other through the inevitable low points.
  5. Pray to God and Gurus to add their support to your good efforts.

Finally, remember to have fun with life. Will power doesn’t need to be grim. Rather, let it be a joyful flow of energy helping to accomplish your chosen goals. As Swami Kriyananda says, “Joy is the solution, not the reward.” This would be a good motto for the new year.

With joy,

Nayaswami Jyotish

Subscribe to the Touch of Light podcast. Download the audio recording of this week’s blog by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here:

18 Comments

Post Comment
  1. Clear, poignant and manageable soul-utions. In Divine Gratitude to God, Guru, Swamiji and Jyotish and Devi. Jai Guru, Namaste

  2. Thank you dearest Jyotish Ji for the helpful tips to set forth the new year. Thank you (and Devi Ji) for this inspiring blog. Blessed new year wishes with love and gratitude to you both.

  3. Dear Jyotish,
    So funny about the finger hurting story 🙂
    Thank you for the laugh today, and seeing lightheartedness in life’s problems.
    A blessed new year for you and dear Devi filled with love of God and Guru.
    bhajana

  4. Dear Jyotish – thank you for this. It is very helpful. I have lots of good habits that have helped me greatly over the years. I’ve done the energization exercises very faithfully twice a day for 41+ years, with only five days missed due to illness. I’ve meditated regularly and have followed a healthy diet. I’ve exercised – until Divine Mother had to make me stop! But there are seemingly little things that add up to major weaknesses, things I could fix by applying more will power in those directions. So, thanks for the encouragement.

    I’ve always loved Paramhansa Yogananda’s definition of will power. “Will power is an increasingly smooth flow of energy and attention, directed toward a desired end.” It takes the grimness out of the equation; but on the other hand, it shows that all five instruments by which we act and perceive can be brought to bear on what we want to achieve: body (energy), heart-feelings (desired), will (directed), mind (attention), and soul (the desired end). Cheers – Rambhakta

  5. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
    Thank you for the blog 🙂 Very helpful tips
    Happy Newyear to you, Devi Ji & All Ananda Sanghis

    Jai Guru

    Aum,
    Prem

  6. Very very important massage to me for my entirelife . Be happy n like to follow as a resolution too.
    Thank you very much
    HappyNew Year.

  7. Pranan Jis

    Thanks for Sharing, Shall follow conciously all that ,and stay Joufully. Wishing a Very Happy New Year Jis.

    With Gratitude
    R Sundararajan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *