Thoughts for 2023 & New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year

SEHNSUCHT is a German word that is used to describe a feeling of intense longing or yearning for something that is unattainable or distant. In the context of a love of life, the word describes a longing for experiences, places, or people that are not currently present in one’s life but deeply desired. The word encapsulates a bittersweet feeling that combines both the pain of absence and the hope of fulfillment, and perhaps that is why it’s a perfect word to describe how it feels arriving at this particular new year, one that is filled with longing after the world was shut down. And as promised, here are my New Year’s resolutions—right on time this year. The past few New Years felt strange, as we emerged from lockdowns, but 2023 dawns with a sense of openness and hope. This holiday season was the first unrestricted one in years, and this new year stretches out filled with possibility. My hope for 2023 is to make more time for regenerative expriences such as lingering in the sun; and meandering through a favourite city; for swimming in the sea in a place I once called home; or simply being with those who know me best. This year, I will let go of draining people and situations, remembering that where my attention goes, my energy flows. Thoughts become things. So here they are, the five things that I plan to spend time working on this year. And as always, to you: may you dream deeply and love fully this year. And may whatever you’re looking for, find you. Happy 2023!


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Note Life’s Beautiful Moments

The polymath Omar Khayyam once said, “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” Four years ago, in 2019, I made the resolution to try (again) to keep a gratitude journal, and (again) failed. Perhaps had tried to do too much by planning to write too many things that I was thankful for at the beginning of each day. This year, I have a new tactic: being more conscious of how I spend my time during each day, and noting (in my new journal) one beautiful moment as it happens, so that at the end of each day, there will be a record. One moment on its own might not seem like much, but a collection of these moments are extraordinary and make up a lifetime. My lifetime. So far these are: watching the clouds turn pink just before sunset on a cold December night; Pink Himalayan Salted Caramel Truffles with freshly ground coffee on a Monday morning; a slice of strawberry Victoria sponge cake made with light, buttery sponge filled with whipped cream and strawberry conserve; waking up next to the person I love most in this world…

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Have patience

Patience is a virtue, they say. Unfortunately, it’s a virtue that I’ve little time for. When I’m doing one thing, often find myself already thinking about the next, mentally rushing moments along while not fully immersing myself in them. I’m currently in the middle of six books and never did learn to play chess (one of my resolutions from two years ago). My lack of patience leaves a tornado of unfinished thoughts, ideas, plans, half-written articles, stories, and a dream of a novel. Waiting for the redesign of our site to be completed was nearly impossible. (It finally went live last week.) As the saying goes: the day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit. Happily, patience is a skill that can be cultivated through practice (and the result of choosing to emphasise thinking over feeling) so it’s something that can be improved upon. It’s also thought that having patience leads to more confidence, decisiveness, and a thoughtful perspective on life⏤all good things for a new year.

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New feelings for new experiences

There is a tumblr aphorism that states: Stop carrying old feelings into new experiences. What are these old feelings? Psychologically speaking, they refer to emotional baggage⏤that is, the unresolved emotional issues, traumas, and stresses from the past (and present) that weigh on our mind and even affect our physical being. As we develop, it is normal to carry our perceptions of past experiences with us, and while it may be healthy to want to learn from past experiences, this behaviour can include carrying forward unhealthy ‘baggage’ (so to speak). This emotional baggage can be a barrier to making healthier lifestyle choices and lead to becoming stuck in old habits. It can also have negative impacts on our professional ambitions and goals, healthy relationships, personal contentment, and overall enjoyment of life. Identifying and working through unresolved feelings of fear, hurt, loss, or anger and learning to manage past perceptions allows us to respond to new experiences with new feelings, something that I am continually working on, but would like to pay particular attention to this year.

Enjoy the journey

There is a well-known saying that it’s the journey, and not the destination that counts. This resolution ties in with the second: to be more patient. The journey of life is a continuous process of self-discovery and exploration, learning more about yourself, your capabilities, and the world around you as you move along. The impact you make on the world often lies in the journey itself⏤and not how it ends⏤but the influence you have on people, communities, and the environment as you move forward. This year, I plan to focus on the process of growth and self-discovery as I work toward both personal and professional aspirations, remembering that every step of the journey is an opportunity to learn and evolve. Rather than fixating solely on the end goal, I want to appreciate the lessons, challenges, and insights gained along the way, to focus on the present, rather than getting caught up in future outcomes. For the journey is about living in the present moment, and appreciating the steps you take, the people you meet, and the experiences you gather along the way.

Let people be wrong

There may be times when we encounter a tweet or comment that we believe to be incorrect, eliciting a strong urge to “educate” the other person. I’ve felt this impulse myself on multiple occasions. However, I make it a rule not to correct strangers online. The only exceptions are people I know personally. I recall two specific instances where I engaged in political debates, once with an old school friend, and once with P’s younger brother. In both cases, the disagreements escalated into unnecessary arguments. Since then, I have learned to let people be wrong. That is, I’ve learned to allow others to hold opinions I may deem inaccurate or objectionable, whether related to politics, facts, or even about my own person. This year, I aim to remember that everyone has different expectations, opinions, and values, and the reality is that it’s impossible to align with all of them, and that’s okay. Diversity in perspectives is a natural part of human interaction and an intrinsic aspect of human relationships.