Tevet: Resting Resolutions
It is important to maintain a healthy balance between contentment and pursuit.
While extreme joy is fleeting and usually caused by something specific, contentment is a general feeling of satisfaction with the way things are—a sustainable happiness. However, if we fully rest in this contentment, we become still, stagnant, with minimal growth and development.
On the flip side, if we are constantly striving for better, for more, for different, will we ever be happy? Will we constantly feel inadequate? What can we do to reach a place of being satisfied with our current lot, while also pursuing, growing, and moving forward? How can we reflect this in our actions and our work?
Making resolutions for the secular New Year seems contradictory during a Shmita year. But contradictions make life interesting, complex, and difficult—in a good way! Instead of shying away from the challenge of reconciling a Shmita year with the practice of New Year’s resolutions, we can embrace this intersection as a unique opportunity for self-reflection.
Resolution-making is the pursuit of a concrete goal—lose 10 pounds, find a new job, move to a more desirable area—which we judge, often harshly, as either a success or a failure. With the achievement of such a resolution comes a sense of joy, which fades over time.
During the Shmita year we practice acceptance and strive toward a sense of satisfaction with our world—essentially, a feeling of contentment. At a time when we are supposed to let things, situations, each other, and ourselves, be as they are, how might we resolve to make changes? Maybe by setting intentions instead of resolutions—mindfully, gently, with compassion for ourselves, and an awareness of what our worlds may need right now.
Resolution: a decision or determination upon an action or course of action.
Intention: purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct.