Making and Keeping New Years Resolutions
Alexander, Andy, S.J.
Waldron, Maureen McCann
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Text from the first four paragraphs of "Making and Keeping New Year's Resolutions"Why should I make any New Year's Resolutions? I never keep them.Almost all of us have had the experience of wanting to begin a new year resolving to improve, to do some things better than we have before. It is natural to have hope, to want to believe we aren't stuck in the ways we currently behave, and yet, all of us have the experience that we haven't done too well with our past resolutions. In fact, at this time of the year, the newspaper cartoons almost always point out the humorous side of our trying to make resolutions that don't seem to have a chance of succeeding.Why do our resolutions so often fail?So often our good intentions fail and fail quickly. There are many reasons, of course, and some of them relate to how realistic our resolving is, but sometimes, we resolve to end addictive behavior without really giving it a chance. Most of the time, most of our resolutions are our best attempts at just having stronger will power. Though there are outstanding examples of heroic virtue, and some people really do quit addictive behavior "cold turkey," there are far too many examples of failure.One instinct deep in Ignatian Spirituality is the sense that, while it is good to develop stronger will power and self-control, real change in our lives actually happens most reliably when it comes from our deepest desires. Ignatius knew, from his own experience, just as we often discover in therapy, in spiritual direction, upon reflection on our own experience, that we usually do what we want to do. We rarely do what we don't want to do. The secret to change is to reform our desires - discovering what our deepest desires are and trying to change or re-form them. This was no self-help process for Ignatius and many of the Saints. It was the process of getting to know Jesus and falling in love with him. Once we fall in love with someone, all our desiring changes. Don't I already know Jesus? Don't I already have a relationship with him?Often this sounds too simple to us. Don't I already know Jesus? Haven't I already fallen in love with him? Of course, hearing the invitation at the beginning of this new year to examine our relationships with Jesus and let them be renewed this upcoming year, begins with the freedom to acknowledge that there is room for growth here. And, it starts with something of an attraction, a small desire, even a bit of curiosity that wonders, "What more can I discover? How might my heart be more captured by Jesus?"