Facebook Icon Twitter Icon

Balance Stones

A Holistic Approach to Your
New Year's Resolution

Dr. Ashraf Girgis N.D


2024 is here. If you are like the other 40% of Americans who write their New Year’s resolutions, it is likely that you have already scribbled down some goals. It is also likely that about 2/3 of you will have given up your goals within the first three months. You might say, “Okay, so what if I fail to keep my resolution?”

Well, not all of you will fail. I’d like to congratulate the 1/3 of you who will keep your resolution through the entire year, and those of you who will probably keep them for at least a few months (like yours truly). But have you ever wondered why we are so busy making resolutions about being getting organized, eating right, and exercising well but make no resolutions about our spiritual wellbeing? Spiritual well-being It is the core of who we really are. The reason we over eat, get drunk, and continue to have broken relationships/marriages, the reason we find ourselves lonely and unhappy, lies in our own spiritual health.

So, why not start the year off right by setting different types of goals–goals that you can apply to your spiritual journey? You can set the other goals as well, but those goals will mean nothing without spiritual peace within. Start by asking yourself serious questions regarding your spirituality, and answering them in an honest fashion, without censorship. Here are some steps to get you started:


1. Ask yourself, “Am I happy?”

Realize first that happiness is a state of mind, and it is important to be aware of what happiness means for you. Find this happiness in a way that is practical and applicable for your own life. For example, if you are single and hope to find your “prince charming” this year, but you live in a small community, maybe you need to consider moving to a larger city in order to meet someone instead of being unhappy. But, while you can take the necessary steps to make yourself happy, realize that you first need to be happy without depending on anyone or anything else. How happy you feel is your perception, and that perception shapes what ultimately happens. No one has control over your perception but you.

Ask yourself, “why do I only see myself as happy if I were married?” Find ways to address the issues. For example, if you like the company because it makes you feel less lonely, then seek other ways to fill the gap, all while taking practical steps to address the search for a companion.

In other words, write down exactly what it is that you are looking for in your life. I suggest you to write monthly, six-month, year, and 5 year goals. I like to write weekly goals as well. Why?

Because time flies by, and I know that sometimes I have difficulty keeping track of days. It’s Monday, and before you know it, Friday has arrived. A friend of mine lists all her goals on one page and places it in a mason jar in front of the kitchen sink. Once a week, she looks at it to make sure she sticks to her goals and does not forget about them. She sure is doing much better since she started this practice. It keeps her focused and steady toward her goals. Therefore, it’s important to look at your goals regularly so that you can achieve them before the time has passed, making sure you take the necessary steps to meet your goals and do what makes you happy every day.


2 .Visualize,

all of your desires and dreams. To understand yourself better, map out exactly what it is that you’re looking for. To start with, it is a good idea to get a big art notebook. Take pictures from the Internet or magazines with anything that you dream about: the way you like to dress, the home you dream of having, your ideal job, and the shape you want to see yourself in. Paste them in the booklet.

I remember doing this activity with my kids when they were younger. They were very young, and felt this was boring. But eventually they started cutting out pictures of the type of home, the kind of dog they’d like to have when they’re older, etc. They got excited and kept pasting more pictures. Of course, I had to do the same. A few years later, when we moved into a new home, I found this booklet in the corner collecting dust. When I looked through it to see if I should throw it away or not, I was shocked; the house I had pasted in the booklet looked almost exactly like the one we had moved in! Even my kids were amazed at how alike they were.

To make a long story short, we are the products of our aspirations. What goes through our mind, consciously or unconsciously, is what we become. So why not try and see what is really in your thoughts? What is the canvas of your life that you are busy painting, consciously or unconsciously? However, keep in mind that there are things in life we cannot control, no matter what we have painted in our mind. But we can always do our best to shape our lives in a way that makes us happy. 

If you realized the power of thought, you would never choose a negative one.

3. Assess where you are spiritually,

This is extremely important, and yet very few pay attention to it. Having strong spiritual beliefs help you stay grounded through life’s difficulties. Spirituality is the belief that there is a higher power within us, and we are not just physical beings. Many believe that spirituality means being religious and going to a church, mosque, temple, etc. Although spirituality and religion seem to be connected, and are often used interchangeably, this does not necessarily mean they are the same.

There are people who believe in nature as a higher power. Others simply believe in themselves. Many believe that we are more than just a physical being. For example, Sufism (a branch of Islam) are firm believers that we can control our physical being completely; some Sufis, to prove their point, go as far as to pass a knife through their body and yet do not bleed or feel the pain. Science has now shown that as human beings, we are indeed capable of controlling the emotional part of our brain – the part responsible for pain, joy, anger, and happiness.

The same goes for Hinduism, Buddhism, and even non-religious practices. As long as we are capable of training our focus in specific ways. we can increase the frontal lobe of our brain responsible for controlling our emotions. Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist from Harvard who has done extensive research on meditation, visited Buddhist monks in the Himalayan Mountains. He videotaped a group of monks who were sitting half naked in below-freezing temperatures, and covering their shoulders with a cold, wet towel. They begin meditating, and one can see steam rising from their shoulders.

Regardless of our religious beliefs, having strong spiritual values is important for peace within and reaching a happier life on the inside, regardless of how tumultuous your life appears on the outside. You can always find refuge and peace within. You can reach this state of mind by daily meditation, or if you are religious, by praying daily. Muslims pray five times a day, and Christians have their daily prayers. If you have no idea how to meditate, sign up for a class. I have been teaching “The Science of Meditation” for the last ten years. In this seminar, I teach a few simple meditative excises to practice daily. Feel free to sign up for my class on my website. If you are not in our area, seek out some meditation classes. There are also many well-known speakers that have their own CDs published. You can find some in our online store; I highly recommend all of the ones I picked for our site. I have also written an article about the power of prayer and meditation, highlighting what happens in our bodies physiologically when performing a prayer or meditation. Additionally, I have a few CDs of my own that discuss Guided Imagery and Meditation (also found in our store).

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere

4. Assess your needs, simplify your assets and belongings.

When I talk about assessing your needs, it is not just physical needs. We obviously need to eat to stay alive. We need to live in an environment that makes us feel safe. We need to have enough money to protect ourselves against sickness and can pay the bills.But when I talk about assessing needs, I mean to consider whether or not you need to have the latest version of the iPhone. Or the latest fashion accessories, clothing, cars, or home that is far beyond your ability to maintain. Things that may keep us up at night because we are not sure how we be able to pay for all of them.

Look at it with a sincere desire for peace. Ask yourself, “Do I need to pay a higher mortgage than needed because I want a bigger house or fancier car?” Often we might choose material gratification to compensate for a lack of satisfaction in other areas of our lives. Look at it closely and take practical steps to change the situation.

Luckily, the American millennial generation seems to be much less materialistic and more aware of their actions. Our son can live in a tent camping for weeks and wear the same clothes without any desire for more. My daughter started to downsize all her items to under one hundred (meaning everything she owned had to be only one hundred items or less, including clothing, shoes, etc.).  She had a stack of bags full of clothes, decorative items, and toys for donations. At first it made me unhappy, because some of the items were things we had bought on various trips. But for her, this was an effort to live a simple life. So we let her proceed, and it discreetly made us very proud.

5. Assess your relationships.

As humans, we are programmed to live as a group and keep close relationships. It’s in our DNA. I have written an article about loneliness and how to address the issue. However, it is important that we also try to deal with the unhealthy relationships that can be detrimental to our happiness. Ask yourself, “Do I feel fulfilled in my marriage? If not, can I say goodbye to a marriage that is making me miserable?

Or, can I try to minimize the mental damage that this poor relationship has done to me?” Do the same for the other relationships in your life: “Do I feel happy and fulfilled in my job and with my coworkers? If not, can I change it?” Continue to analyze relationships with other family members and friends. I am not suggesting to seek out a perfect relationship, as these do not exist. However, if you have a relationship that brings you more pain than joy and causes more stress than comfort, it is time to assess and move forward. But always keep in mind that relationships are like a garden: they need to be maintained, fertilized, and weeded in order to keep them healthy and nice.

Relationships often bring you more satisfaction when you are the giver of kindness and care, rather than a taker who always demands more. Try to do something nice every day for your close family and friends. Perform an act of kindness every day, and keep track of your performance until it has become you. Smile; we are much more open to those who have a genuine smile on their face than those who always look unhappy. So, smile and the world will be smiling back.

Will you be a happy person doing all of these things? Maybe not--happiness is an inside job. Regardless of what the world throws at you, you must be at peace within. Hopefully, these few simple steps will help you to reach that level and enjoy a more exciting, fulfilling life.

To find out more about stress management, sign up for my classes. Wishing you a VERY peaceful and happy 2024!

Dr. Ashraf Girgis N.D.

Additional Articles

The Art of Happiness

The Pursuit of Happiness

Read More
Get Moving to Combat Stress

Get Moving to Combat Stress

Read More
How Chronic Stress Creates Hormonal Havoc

How Chronic Stress Creates Hormonal Havoc

Read More

Additional Articles


Read More

8 Facts about Placebos That Aren’t Imagined

Read More

Distracted? Blame that donut

Read More