From resolutions to evolution

by | January 12, 2015

I’ve been struggling with New Year’s resolutions this year. Somehow, they don’t fit me any more.

It’s taken me several weeks to finally put my finger on why.

Let me explain by asking you to compare two lists:

  • Productivity
  • Creativity
  • Efficiency
  • Artistry
  • Economy
  • Imagination
  • Organization
  • Innovation
  • Competence
  • Inspiration/Passion
  • Decisiveness
  • Playfulness
  • Profitability
  • Empathy

If you had to choose between these, which list of attributes would you rather cultivate and possess?

Which of these two lists do we emphasize more in Western, capitalistic society? Which is more emphasized in our educational system? Which do you think we should emphasize?

New Year’s resolutions, I’ve determined, are largely a left brain technology. They are about goal-setting, accomplishing, achieving, attaining. Logical, linear, sequential, tangible, measurable.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with this, mind you. It’s just that our left, conscious brains are extremely limited in what they comprehend and in how they function.

The left-brain, goal-setting perspective can only take us so far.

At some point, we have to graduate beyond a left brain existence. At some point we have to question whether our increased productivity is actually taking us to the right place, or simply accelerating our progress to the wrong destination.

At some point we have to question not just the vehicle in which we’re traveling and its efficiency, but the journey itself.

Are we on the right path? Are we living a truly meaningful life beyond our checklists, schedules, and daily tasks? Are we just “getting things done,” or are we actually experiencing happiness?

The list above on the right, you’ll notice, is a list of right brain aptitudes and attributes, which are largely neglected in our educational system and society and which can provide a whole new level of experiential happiness, enjoyment, and fulfillment that the left brain doesn’t care about or even see.

And as Daniel Pink points out in his book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, the world is undergoing a fundamental shift, and right brain aptitudes and skills are quickly becoming vital to survive in a new economy.

But I must confess, I tricked you with those two lists. I set you up with a false construct, a straw man. Not to manipulate you, understand, but to drive home my point.

You see, there is a third list.

My recent pondering has not revolved around left brain goal-setting versus right brain creating and meaning.

My realization is that I yearn to graduate even beyond these two spheres and phases by developing the spiritual attributes on the third list, on the right:

Left Brain

Right Brain

Spirit

  • Success
  • Happiness
  • Love
  • Doing/Achieving
  • Finding Meaning
  • Being
  • Goal-Setting
  • Creating
  • Building Relationships
  • Productivity
  • Creativity
  • Charity
  • Efficiency
  • Artistry
  • Kindness
  • Economy
  • Imagination
  • Patience
  • Organization
  • Innovation
  • Unselfishness
  • Competence
  • Inspiration/Passion
  • Service
  • Decisiveness
  • Playfulness
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Profitability
  • Empathy
  • Compassion

Now tell me: Which of the three lists above would you rather choose? If you had to choose between being productive, creative, or kind, which would you choose?

When it’s put like that, isn’t it obvious which is the most important? Then why do we spend so much time, focus, and energy on the first two while largely neglecting the last? When was the last time you read a book on being kinder and serving more, versus being more productive and successful?

I know what you’re thinking: Why do we have to choose between these three lists? Aren’t these all good things to cultivate?

Absolutely. The problem, however, is that the first list is dominant in our society. The third list should be the foundation of all our striving and creating. It should provide the context of what we strive for and the things we create.

When did love become a nice afterthought versus a primary motivator?

When did service become an extracurricular activity versus a core requirement — a permanent way of being that permeates everything we do, how we achieve success, and what we do with it once we’ve achieved it?

Kindness and unselfish service, it seems, are what we get to after our to-do lists are checked off — if we have time for them, that is.

This year, I don’t care to improve my productivity. I have no new goals I’m striving to achieve. I don’t want to focus on doing, having, or accomplishing. I really don’t even want to focus on creating new works of art.

What I really want is to focus on being. I simply want to be more kind and loving. I want to serve and give more.

I have no idea how to measure this — and I don’t care. My hunch is that I’ll just know, and that will be enough.

If forced to express it as a goal, I’d put it this way: Never let a day pass without doing something thoughtful, kind, and loving for someone else, no matter how small, with no expectation of any benefit to yourself. And the more of these experiences you can create daily, the better.

Now that’s a resolution I can get behind. That’s a resolution that energizes me.

To be more precise, it’s not a resolution I’m after at all; it’s an evolution.


(For more tools to evolve into your purpose, click here to download my free toolkit now.)

P.S.

magnificent_obsessionIf this resonates with you, I urge you to read Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglas as soon as possible.

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