We Know You Don’t Want to Say the Word Resolution

(Photo above by Djordje Vezilic / Pexels)

Got that new gym membership but already don’t have the motivation to go? Or, maybe you decided not to get swept up in resolutions and just try some new passions. New year, new me… right?

There’s definitely a shift you feel when the new year begins. But how can you sustain this refreshed feeling and not get burned out from daily life?

A recent opinion piece in The New York Times asked an important question: “What if, instead of planning our exercise regimens, we focused our intentions on all that is undesirable in human activity—wars, bigotry, brutality, the despoiling of the earth—and sought to address it? What if instead of making a milquetoast resolution, we made airtight commitments?”

The article goes on to recommend how the small decisions we make to help others not only help “move the world” but that such exercises in selflessness lead to our self-improvement. “You may find that, all at once, you look and feel better than you would have after any amount of dieting and exercise.”

How Buddhist is that? Buddhism teaches that by helping the person in front of us become happy we become happier ourselves. And yes, we do have the capacity to care for others despite our own challenges. Actually, Buddhism teaches that it is through reaching out to encourage others that we’re able to heal our own lives.

Buddhism teaches that it is through reaching out to encourage others that we’re able to heal our own lives.

As the Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda writes:

When we look after and care for others—that is, help others draw forth their life force—our own life force increases. When we help people expand their state of life, our state of life also expands. That is the wonderful thing about the bodhisattva way. The practice for benefiting others is one and the same with the practice for benefiting ourselves. … Our lives and the lives of others are ultimately inseparable. It is vital, therefore, that we follow the bodhisattva way.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, vol. 1, pp. 104–05

By beginning our day with chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and taking genuine action to contribute to others’ happiness, we ourselves are the ones who benefit the most. Following the bodhisattva way is as simple as that.

So, if you think about it, committing to chant consistently and be good friend, family member, co-worker (add your own example), allows us to live the most profound and fulfilling lives, and of course, changes our communities and by default the world.

Ikeda reminds us of what happens when we chant:

By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can cleanse our lives of negativity and impurities. We can push everything in the direction of happiness. For example, a person’s shyness can be transformed into valuable qualities such as prudence and discretion, while someone’s impatience might be transformed into a knack for getting things done quickly and efficiently. A river meanders but never stops. This is the natural way of things. Similarly, if you make continual efforts, your personality will improve slowly and steadily. The key is to keep moving forward and never stop.

Discussions on Youth, p. 97

There’s no need to pressure ourselves to become something we’re not; we already have the potential (see: Buddha nature) to be brave, compassionate and wise people. We just need to tap into it.

So, yeah there is every life hack ever out there but isn’t the greatest life hack becoming a person you’re proud of and contributing positively to the world? And the best part is that by challenging your problems, you can give hope to others that they don’t have to stay stuck. They too can challenge and shine just as they are.

As Ikeda shares:

The source of this great transformation is found nowhere but in a radical deepening of our own chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon. This sort of prayer to the Gohonzon is completely different from that found in a dependent, supplicant faith; we do not weakly and passively beg someone for salvation or assistance.

June 8, 2018, World Tribune, p. 7

This new year is a chance for anyone to make the greatest commitment. A commitment to their happiness and the happiness of the people in their communities. Feel free to reach out to us and connect with a Buddhist meeting in your neighborhood!

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