New Year: Become, don’t just overcome

Suzette Standring
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In 2019, I hope to “become” not to “overcome.”  To me, becoming is about awareness and inner change, while overcoming feels like a grinding discipline of must and should. Yet there is so much to overcome: the polemics of news, bad habits, ongoing hurts. But recently I fasted from TV for a week, and a new realm of calm opened up.  I became my peace, an unexpected result from separating myself from the din of chaos and chatter.

I took a December vacation with family and didn’t watch the news at all, too busy with much more fun things.  The week zoomed by with my head full of observations on nature, love, beauty and gratitude, such a different mindset from my regular life.  Why, I wondered.  Maybe it’s because my eyes happily scanned the skies and often rested on my loved ones. Back at home, my eyeballs too often are fixed on CNN and Fox.

Upon return, the latest pig’s breakfast on TV was being served up to the public.  I needed to overcome my anger and disgust.  I felt guilty for my mind’s time away. Hobgoblins whispered in my ear, “See what you missed?  You’re in avoidance! Do you not care about the state of our world?  Are you turning your back on the suffering, the victimized, and the voiceless?”

Yet this is the result of my fast from negative chatter. Back at home, I had a conversation with a stranger, not about politics and the woeful state of society, but about fun plans and new projects.  My outlook was hopeful, my world felt brighter because discouragement didn’t dog me for a full week.

No one needs to go on vacation. Just the turmoil off.  Freeing my spirit from negativity, even for a short while, made me calmer, kinder.  I can choose to do this regularly at home.  Stay apprised of the news, but don’t drown in its despair.  A powerful Buddhist tenet speaks of detachment, where one does not own victory or failure, but focuses on right action.

I will not be conquering anything. The main definition of “conquer” is to overcome and take control by military force, to vanquish, trounce, defeat.  And while the end result is good, in relation to conquering weaknesses, the act of conquering sounds like a military trudge in drudgery. 

In the Bible, Romans 8:37 reads, “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

We can be more than conquerors through love?  This year I want to become peace, to embody encouragement, and it is possible if I choose to experience love, beauty, and to protect my mind and spirit. In turn, I can instill hope in others through my own belief and right actions based on what Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Many start their new year with diet and exercise goals.  How about regular fasts from negativity and the daily exercise of positive action?

Become rather than overcome.

This column ran in The Patriot Ledger and nationally through GateHouse Media on 1/4/2019.


  1. amazing,thank you. Keep up the good work,it is very encouraging,and inspiring.