Monday, August 23, 2010

New Year Resolutions

December 31 is one of the best days of the year. New Years Eve parties are my favorite. All the glitz, the festive mood in the air, the renewed sense of optimism shared by everyone. However, when it comes to making serious New Year resolutions, I leave that for Rosh Hashannah.

There is a big difference between my Rosh Hashannah resolutions and my "New Year" resolutions. First of all, if I even make a Dec. 31 New Year resolution (which I haven't done in a couple of years), it's always something pretty shallow. Go to the gym more. Eat less junk food. Save more money. You know, the usual, pretty universal self-promises. But, I make resolutions EVERY Rosh Hashannah. And these are the ones that matter. This is the time I actually self-reflect and take stock of who I've become and where I am in my life. I do a true self-study and evaluate what needs to change and what realistic changes I should start with.

I usually try and make two major resolutions. One has strictly to do with observance. Last year, it was to try to daven every day. I chose Mincha as my prayer. My other resolution is still definitely part of observance, but it follows the theme of what most would call "being a better person." These kind of resolutions fall along the lines of giving charity, not speaking ill of others, forgiveness, etc.

As Rosh Hashannah draws near, it's once again time for self-reflection. Every year I find triumphs - times when I've been gracious, kind, helpful, and giving. Of course, being only human, there have also been times of which I'm embarrassed. Times when I've gossiped, acted selfishly, didn't help others when I've had the opportunity. Unfotunately for me, those are the things that stick in my head. Every helpful moment I've had can be overshadowed in my mind by the time I had the opportunity to help others but did nothing.

So here I am, Rosh Hashannah roughly two weeks away. What are my resolutions this year? Well, my first resolution is still to daven more. Unfortunately, I let that one fall through the cracks last year. But, I learned a lesson. I can really always find half an hour a day to say some prayers. Sure, there will be some days that are just crazy. But for the most part, nothing is so important that it can't wait half an hour. Furthermore, when I say prayers, I feel so much better inside, that it allows me to enjoy the rest of my day much more than if I skip them. The half hour spent on Mincha actually doubles the meaning and enjoyment of the other 23 1/2 hours of the day.

The second and equally, if not more, important resolution centers around charity. I already try to donate money. But this year, I want to give more than that. Sure the money is necessary and important, but I want to get more involved on a volunteer level as well. Donating time and energy is crucial to the success of so many causes. Personally, I tend to donate money to human charities. Mostly helping poor people or contributing to disease research. This year, I want to take it one step further and use my time to physically volunteer for a cause. But for this part, I'm going to focus on animals. As human beings, we have an added responsibility in the world. We must help care for all living things. So I joined No Paws Left Behind and I'm looking into other local animal rescue organizations to see where I can be most helpful.

Wish me luck on these endeavors! May we all have a Shana Tova U'Metukah!

1 comment:

  1. Good luck! Those sound like 2 great resolutions. It's now Elul, a time for self-reflection and teshuva. Now is a great time to start improving both our religious observance and middos (character traits). Try to start davening minchah now, try working on "being a better person" now. Remember that there are only ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur!!!