Recently, a friend asked me if I’d made any New Year’s resolutions. The truth is, I haven’t. The truth is, I think they’re a terrible idea, because they mentally set us up to do something differently for the next 365 days and if we don’t…failure! So when you miss that first planned day of going to the gym or you overindulge or don’t darn your socks in a timely fashion as part of your money-saving agenda, that’s not just a *biff*, that invites a negative moral judgment. You resolved to do this thing, to embark on this life-changing endeavor, and you? You failed.
Who needs that? Mark Twain said, “Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.” In other words, Mark Twain got why resolutions are not geared toward fruition. You don’t throw the bad habit out the window and hope it sticks the landing, because it never does; you just let it go, bit by bit. Any advice anyone can give me about coaxing nail-biting downstairs will be greatly appreciated.
With that being said, New Year’s is…well…a new year. A new beginning, by definition a transition point and a good time to do a self-evaluation. Buddhists will tell you that everything is impermanent and so change is always possible as each moment is an independent one from the past, and there’s an undeniable reality to that. But non-Buddhist Westerners (like me) like to compartmentalize and pretend that change is something to be initiated and manhandled, even if in our hearts we know that’s not the case. I’m not saying it’s OK, I’m just saying that’s how it is. And so, here are some things I’ve recommended to myself to do, which you may be interested in doing, too. It’s far from a complete list, but let’s face it, neither you nor I have the time or energy to write down every little thing you observe and would like to change. At least not in one sitting.
Or you could. It’s your story to write, I’m just making suggestions.
1. Sweat more. Your skin will thank you for it.
2. Do you want it? Do you use it? No? Then throw it out, donate it, or recycle it. Interior clutter just clutters you, too.
3. Read a book. If you’re a student, take a break.
4. Stop hanging around with people you don’t really care about. Find the people you do really care about, and focus on them.
5. Pay more attention to your food; it does go in your body. Save the quota of junk influx for the aforementioned overindulgences.
6. Make friends with the question, “Now what?” Give yourself permission to not know, but never the permission to not look for the answer.
7. Be nice. By “nice” I mean, humane towards animals, playful but firm with small children and humble and open toward everyone else.
8. Consider other perspectives.
9. Don’t turn the TV on for “background noise”.
10. Find something you love and pursue it like you’re going to ignite if you don’t.
I just watched a PBS-Dr. Wayne Dyer show called Excuses Begone, and while he dances into the religious a little more than I’d like, he always offers sound advice. In Excuses Begone, Dr. Dyer reminds us of what H. Jackson Brown, Jr. said, to “Never underestimate your power to change yourself (oh, OK, cool!); never overestimate your power to change others (oh, crap).” So I’m not envisioning that I will change the world with this, no matter how much I’d like to dash in and save you all with my insurmountably groovy appeal. Honestly, I’m hoping I can follow my own advice, though with that statement I realize I have already undermined myself, so I’ll stop it. It’s that easy to be self-defeating. The hard part is embracing fabulosity, even though it’s what we all want for ourselves.
So go on, be fabulous. It’s OK. Have a delicious sandwich and I’ll see you ’round the recycling center.
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