New Years Resolutions

I don’t like New Years Resolutions. They sound too much like there’s something wrong with me the way I am. I’ve spent too much of my life feeling like I’m inadequate, and I don’t need to make myself feel that way now. But I do like the idea of taking stock and remembering what’s important to me, and what I can do to make those important things have more prominence in my life. So I’m writing up a list of reminders. Things like:

1. I exercise because it makes me feel good, physically and mentally. (Not because my doctor told me to, or to lose weight. Because it makes me feel good. Period.)

2. I pay attention to my feelings because they have information for me. (Ignoring how I feel works for a while, but eventually something goes wrong. Noticing I feel bad but just trying to make myself feel better works sometimes, but not every time. Figuring out what I feel and why can help me act in a way that feels consistent with my better self and work through the feelings faster.)

3. I strive to be honest with myself and my loved ones. (This is related to #2. I need to have the courage to be honest with myself to really feel my feelings, and I need to trust that honesty at home is healthier long term than lies, even well-intentioned ones.)

A friend mentioned this one for himself, and I liked it so much I adopted it: 4. Being open about my feelings increases intimacy. (It’s easy to assume that no one wants to hear about it if I’m mad, so I keep a lid on it. But then there’s a wall up, and the other person reacts to the wall, and soon we’re all in little bricked-up prisons unable to connect and miserably lonely. In reality, when I’m open in a gentle, kind, and honest way, even if I’m mad, it increases the connection between me and the other person.)

5. I’m willing to work hard for the things that matter to me. (It’s easy to want to be lazy. But when I’ve worked hard for something I care about, it has felt good. The trick is to pay attention to what matters to me, since those are the things I’m more intrinsically motivated to do. But this is a good reminder that hard work isn’t distasteful when done for the right reason, and if I’m hating the work, maybe what I’m working on doesn’t matter enough to me.)

I think that’s enough for now. Other people have their own – the friend mentioned above wanted to play an instrument more often. He was thinking in terms of having a resolution to play more. For me, it feels better to remind oneself that playing the instrument feels good. It matters, and thus is worth making time for. To me, a resolution is a “should” and I avoid “shoulds” as much as possible. But a “want to” is different. I hope I write in this blog more often in 2014. But I hope I do it because I want to do it, not because I think I should.

Happy New Year to you, and may you find your own path this year that feels right to you!