What Matters Most? A Mindful Game for the New Year.


The Kaiser / Greenland family has an annual New Year's tradition. There’s not much to it. Armed with pencils and paper, we write down anything and everything that we'd like to leave behind in the old year as we look toward a new one. Comparing mind? That stays in 2018. Procrastination?  Not going to play that one forward. Old grudges, knee-jerk reactions, and tedious habits of mind?  Jot them down. Done. Done. Done.

When we’ve finished writing down our thoughts, we take turns throwing the bits and pieces of paper into the fire.  Sometimes with steely determination.  Sometimes with a flourish where an announcement of what's being burnt is followed by a chorus of family members chiming in, “I burnt that one, too!” 

Like physical exercise, self-awareness can hurt sometimes, and brainstorming like this – even with comradery and humor - can lead to insights that sting when they cut close to the bone. That can be a good feeling, though. Especially when it helps us identify what matters most.

After the recent fires in California, many are loathe to use their fireplaces this New Year’s, partly because we live in a canyon, we're among them. We've set up a shredder in the living room though and are ready to go. The shredder isn't the only way we're mixing up our New Year's tradition this year. At my husband's request, we're adding another beat to the game. For 2019, we’ll not only focus on what we want to let go of; we’ll declare what we look forward to, as well.

In 2019, I look forward to thinking more about ways that classical training in wisdom and compassion can help us develop the capacity to see — right up-front – what matters most. Fewer twists and turns for me in 2019 than 2018, I hope. And, I look forward to reflecting on how, when practiced together, meditation and insight can help us wisely and compassionately navigate real-world circumstances so that we stay pointed toward our north star, wherever that might be.

May you keep your north star in your sights in 2019 and may your days be filled with what matters most.

Happy New Year!


quick update

The shredder idea didn’t go over so well with my family. Burning that which we hope to let go of feels connected to some powerful ancient symbolism. Shredding notes in an electric paper shredder? Not so much.

So, we improvised. We pulled a cast iron frying pan out of the cupboard and held that last beat of our New Year’s ritual at the stovetop.

Susan Kaiser Greenland