New beginnings and positive change


Article first published in Cornwall Today as ‘Do something different this January’.

January finds many of us resolving to change. Change is good, far better than stasis, but we must be prepared for it to be a challenge.

Doing something different, however exciting or important it may be, is always difficult because it causes us anxiety. Just the thought of climbing that mountain, setting foot in that boat or settling down on the sofa without a drink, cigarette or treat may make your heart beat a little faster and your breathing pattern falter.

It’s enough to make you give up before you’ve even begun. But let’s look at this differently: Are you content and at peace with yourself now? 

Whilst some of our modern New Year’s resolutions are worn lightly, most speak of something we care about deeply. The practice of beginning a new year with a promise is ancient, stretching back at least as far as the Babylonians who started each year by renewing their oaths to their gods. The Romans made their own promises of self-improvement to Janus, for whom the month of January is named, and today our resolutions are still characterised by a commitment to being a little bit better: healthier, braver, more charitable… by doing something different.

The truth is, if we do something different, things will be different; but if we stick to the old familiar patterns, nothing will change. Effectively, we have a choice between two discomforts: the chronic discomfort of staying the same and the acute discomfort of change. Of course, we’re so used to the on-going discomforts of our inhibitions, vices and addictions that they’re part of our mental landscape. But, like the knotweed that threatens the wellbeing of our garden, they can and should be managed before they engulf us. 

The best way to achieve and maintain change is to have support. If, for example, you stop drinking this January, let people know so that they don’t offer you a drink. You might need additional support from Addaction or Alcoholics Anonymous, and Lifetime, Truro offers one-to-one, family and group sessions that nurture honesty, acceptance and empathy to support you in making this change one that lasts. 

The founding principle of Lifetime is that people, just like plants, will thrive if they are given the right conditions. In Cornwall, we’re blessed with rivers and seas, woodlands and moorlands: rich natural spaces that can, if only for an hour or two, prompt different thoughts and emotions and inspire us to embark on the changes we need in order to thrive. If I were to offer just one piece of advice for 2019 it would be to spend more time in those places that most inspire you.

Find out more about outdoor therapies.

Malachy Dunne