A new beginning!!!Â Woo hoo!!!Â Iâ€™m seizing the chance to wrestle freedom from the clutches of habit and external limits.Â Iâ€™m not sure which is more amazing â€“ how freedom remains an option or how increasingly daunting habit and circumstance appear.Â Iâ€™m treasuring the possibility to choose my attitude, choose my thoughts, and choose my behavior, in a special way this week, as I mark not only a new year but the end my first half century on the topside of this planet.Â Yup, Iâ€™m turning 50.
At 16, the freedom and therefore possibility that I could be and do anything enthralled me.Â From about 22, reality unceasingly insisted itself upon me.Â Limits continually arose, as if out of a mist:Â the external terrain and my time, talent, and temperament were fixed and constrained possibility.Â But despite the realization of every unavoidable limit â€“ freedom remained, and in a sense became therefore more precious and amazing.
So, I wonâ€™t just let external circumstances or inner habit dictate how things will be for me.Â Instead, Iâ€™ve written out goals for 2008.Â And Iâ€™m leading a retreat this month to invite others to boldly write theirs.Â I hope you too will exercise the extraordinary freedom to detach yourself from external circumstance and inner habit, and choose the path youâ€™ll take this year.Â Making choices and setting an intention about what you want has power to blow away what appear to be unavoidable limits.
And we can choose to keep exercising freedom in the year ahead.Â How amazing that we can admit the limit â€“ 2007 is gone forever â€“ yet choose to start anew, able to choose our attitude and action in every one of the practically infinite â€œnowâ€™sâ€ that arise . . . now . . . now. .Â and again, now.*Â So, think about writing your goals for the year ahead, and seize the now that is always at hand!
Youâ€™ve got to be free to lead with your best self!
* On the topic of â€œthe now,â€ one of the best books I have ever read is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.Â I found enormous practical life value in the clarity and insight of his ideas.
Happy Birthday, Dan
Happy New Year?
What would it take for you to really experience aâ€œ happy New Year?â€ I will offer twelve suggestions:
1. Decide who has been the kindest person to you this year and make a donation to their favorite charity as a tribute to them.
2. Call your best local friend and arrange to go walking and talking in a lovely place.
3. Think of peopleâ€™s whose laughter you love and send them a few new jokes or funny movie.
4. Do something with an older person. Maybe you could interview an elder and give them copies of their story to distribute to their friends and family (with a photo?)
5. Listen to an hour or two of jazz and improvise a plan for a day in 2008 to introduce a few of your friends, who have never met, to one another.
6. Phone a friend you havenâ€™t heard from for quite a while.
7. Do something with a child. Pick out a child who you could take to lunch or a movie. Or do something else that makes them feel really special.
8. Find a new recipe, double it, and take half to your neighbor.
9. Go to a yard sale, flea market, or consignment shop and find the perfect gift for your significant other.
10. Send someone who wonâ€™t be expecting anything a check, and tell them to spend it on something fun for themselves.
11. Remove three books from your shelves and send them to three people who you know are the perfect recipients.
12. Make a list like this for January-December 2008 to extend your happy holidays across the next year.
To Margaret (and Dan Mulhern):
To Mr. Mulhern: Thank you for making a committment to providing us your missives for another year!
To Ms. Holt: Your list is great! It creates some things to do, but often my busy habits prevent me from doing them. And I often defend myself from learning opportunities by staying with unexamined commitments from the past.
When looking at a new year, I will have to deal with many conflicting commitments and defense mechanisms that keep me from making needed critical changes. I hoping for a new year of opportunities to shine light on my inner contradictions; to challenge and unlock the power I need to release myself from self-protectiveness to do things I really care about – like improving the value of city life. It should be a no-fear New Year!
Change is not just trying to alter problematic behaviors. Without challenging my old unexamined commitments that block the way for change, I’m likely to accomplish very few transformational goals.
To Both: Let’s hope that we all have a year of spiritual and political awareness of our contradictory and unexamined commitments of the past and turn that pent of energy into outgoing concern and positive purpose.
Happy New Year and continued good health, happiness to you and yours. Happy 50th Dan. Mine was four days ago. Like many things in life, attitude makes all the difference. I think it may have been Abraham Lincoln who said “most forks are about as happy as they make up their mind to be”. Enjoy.
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