The beginning of a new year seems like a good time to revisit some old ideas.

Yes, a new calendar year is upon us. We need to date things differently and get used to the idea of writing 2021 on everything, but we carry the same hopes and dreams and, unfortunately, problems into the new year…Usually with the idea that we must carry those things forward with us.

That’s not really true. The new year is a good time to make a new start. No, I’m not advocating irresponsibility…If you have debts or outstanding work/homework…spirituality, regardless of form, does not absolve you from those things.

What I’m saying is simpler than that…and harder. This is the time to wash yourself clean of the excess dirt that others place upon you. Rid yourself of the filth that does not benefit you or help you along in your path. Determine your purpose (or purposes…I have several: Dad, Husband, Son, Engineer, Writer). Devote yourself to excellence in those things. Because those paths are yours to follow. They’re your routes to travel and clear. Leaving debris in the way and getting forced into detours is, at a very basic level, letting others control your purpose in life.

Handing over control, willingly or otherwise, is akin to handing over control of your own happiness. Remember the First Noble Truth? Dukkha? All is suffering. That’s the idea where humans tend to tie their happiness to outcomes which they do not control. When that happens, we’ve set ourselves up to suffer. Why? Because we’ve tied our happiness to a single possible outcome controlled by others.

What do I mean by this? Simple. I’m a Notre Dame football fan. Watching the Irish play makes me happy (even when they lose), but I do not tie that happiness to victory because I have no control over whether that team wins or loses. The same can be said for writing. I write because the process of writing makes me happy. I don’t tie my happiness to a number of likes or comments or offers of publication because I don’t control those things.

So, as the new year opens, clean off the dirt. Take control of what you can. Clear off your own path. Tie your happiness to what you can control and stay focused on your purpose(s).

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