During the birth of the new year, people wish each other, “Happy New Year!” The truth is that happiness does not arrive just because the dates on the calendar have changed. Only when positive change comes into our perspective and actions will we experience happiness. There are two different ways we can celebrate. We can do what most people do and celebrate the holidays marked on the calendar, setting off firecrackers, dancing, singing and fulfilling certain desires. Or we can celebrate by recognising God’s greatness and beauty in each moment of our life. The first way is purely external. It is just a short interval of joy in the midst of numerous sorrows and pain. Like a streak of lightning in the dark sky, these flashes of happiness are short-lived and, after briefly lighting up our life, they vanish. In the second way, the celebration is a continuous state of mind. True celebration is not something that can be gained by fulfilling trivial desires. It is the final stage of a continuous preparation. The desire and quest to realise the ultimate truth should arise from within.
We have to ask ourselves some important questions: First, ask yourself, “Am I making steady progress on the spiritual path? Am I being steady in my spiritual discipline and practice? Or have I lost my way?” Secondly, “Am I living for myself alone? Or, each day, am I able to do something—anything—selflessly for others?” Thirdly, “Am I able to maintain self-control and maturity at all times? Or, overcome by anger, jealousy and other lower emotions, am I still hurting others?” And, finally, “Am I able to contribute and play my part in protecting the environment?” Depending on the answers we give to these questions, we should be ready to correct ourselves and act properly. This is the time to make firm resolutions and to begin putting forth tireless effort. Usually we make many New Year’s resolutions only to see them dissolve after a few days. We always find some reason or other to justify our lack of persistence. One New Year’s Day, a young man asked his friend for a cigarette. His friend was surprised and said, “I thought you resolved to quit smoking?”
The young man replied, “I’m in the process of quitting. This is phase one. In this phase I stop spending my money on cigarettes. I only smoke cigarettes I’m able to get from my friends.” Our resolutions shouldn’t be like this. We should stick to them firmly. If we love something, we will always find it new and fresh. It is when love is lost that an object also seems to lose its novelty. Once a man fell in love with Miss Universe. He pursued her relentlessly and finally married her. But within a few months, he filed for divorce. Previously, he couldn’t live without her; he was always hovering around her, carrying out her every whim. Now, he couldn’t even stand the sight of her—forget spend time with her! This shows that it is love that makes each day of our life new and fresh, imbuing it with strength and enthusiasm. It is love that makes everything new and gives it freshness and novelty. We will only be able to experience as much newness and freshness in our life as there is love within us. If the light of love is not present in us, then even in new things we will only be able to experience darkness. It is love and compassion for others that fills our life with freshness.
On New Year’s, people hang decorations and bright coloured lights. Passers-by by see it and enjoy the lights. Even when people go to sleep, the lights remain on. Even when no one is around to enjoy them, the lights stay on. In a similar manner, we should not look for other people’s recognition or praise to do our good deeds. Most of us are always busy and don’t have time to think about others. This is why we feel lonely and isolated. In the new year, we should find at least a little time each day to do something good for others. Even small acts of compassion and love can create great joy in the world.