Much is made about the question “who am I?”. Retreats are conducted, books are written, self-help programs are followed, all with the goal that we “find ourselves”. I agree that it important to know thyself, for how else can be be aware of what we do, how we act, etc.
What I don’t agree with is that our “self” can be defined, let alone found. Our “selves”, in my opinion, are constantly growing and changing as a result of our experiences and lessons learned. You could only define or find a single snapshot of that self, but that’s all it will be. Other snapshots would reveal a different self due to the growth you’ve experienced.
I find it much more important and relevant to define who you want to be rather than who you are. Doing that gives you a goal and a target which should help direct what experiences and paths you’ll need to take to get there. If you want to be a more peaceful and prayerful person, you know what you can do to become that. If you want to be a more healthy and happy person, you can put a plan together to achieve that.
The beauty is that this process never ends. Since we’re constantly growing and experiencing new things in this life, you will constantly be directing yourself in who you want to be and where you want to grow. This requires a great deal of attention and reflection as well as checking in on your progress. As many have said before, the success rate of hitting a goal you don’t set is always 0%.
In this New Year, take some time to reflect on who you want to be as a person, as a member of your family, as a member of society, as a child of God. Write down or visualize who that person is and start to look at what would need to change in you (behaviors, attitudes, activities, etc.) to get closer to that goal. As you start to feel you’re getting closer, do it again. As time passes, you’ll be able to look back on where you’ve come from and where you are and you’ll realize that you’ve steadily climbed towards a more loving and joyful life…with full wakefulness of it too!