I was in a petrol station today. The man in the queue ahead of me was talking to the shop assistant about new year resolutions. “I’m hoping to lose two stone over the next six weeks” he declared with his head held high in a very self-assured way. “That’s wonderful”, replied the friendly girl, “The best of luck with that!” I would love to know what diet can deliver such a dramatic reduction in weight in such a short period. Usually, such results take longer. The conversation brought me back to Christmas week. On Christmas Eve I was speaking to someone in town who was adamant that he would be giving up ‘the drink’ in the new year. Not a single drop from January 1st, he proudly declared. Today, I saw him leaving his favourite pub with glassy eyes and a beaming smile despite the harsh elements of the weather. I don’t think he will find it easy to adapt to drinking fizzy drinks for a whole year. It’s just a hunch that I have.
A friend of mine once said that she found new year resolutions very depressing. Long term goals by their very nature mean that the reward is in the distance. It’s down the line. The prize only comes with effort and patience. A lot of the time we lack both. We favour a faster reward system with less effort. That’s why so many new year resolutions fail. The same can be said about some of the books in the self-help section in the library or bookstore. ’20 Steps to the Life You Want’ might be a title that grips your attention. But it’s a lot of steps that have to be taken. And it will involve discipline and determination to see them through. You may buy the book but you may never read all of it! I think that we should concentrate more on the hours left in this present day. We cannot change the past. It’s over. And the future isn’t here yet for us to change it. But we can colour this day brilliantly yet. It’s totally within our hands. Maybe, we should practice more short-term goals. Goals which can be satisfied sooner are more attractive. Why not reward ourselves faster? Why not change ‘now’ rather than directing all our desired changes towards tomorrow, the coming months or this year ahead. Maybe, the best new year resolution you could make is to make none at all. Just have the best possible day TODAY with the hours that still remain of it.
1. Go for a quick-paced walk. We spend too much time indoors. Too much time in front of screens. Research has continuously shown that exercise lifts mood. Within twenty minutes major chemical change will take place inside your body that will energise you and make you feel better. You can do this NOW!
2. Switch off all technology and start talking to the people in your world. Lie on the ground and play with your child. Chat to your spouse or partner in a way that truly connects you to them. Listen to them properly. Remind yourself that these people are gifts on your life journey.
3. Think of three things that are right about your life right NOW. Speak about them openly. Your health. Your secure job. Your gorgeous children. There may be hurt in your life today or in the past but remind yourself in a very deliberate way about what you are blessed with. Can you extend the list to ten? With your partner, family member, child or friend engage in conversation like this for as long as it takes. Then turn the spotlight on them. Help them see how blessed they are too.
4. Do something that you really love doing. As we grow older many of us give up the things that make us tick. We surrender our hobbies too easily to the rituals of daily living and working. If it’s music that you like switch it on NOW! If it’s a movie then let’s decide now what time you’ll watch it at. Open the lid of the old piano. Take the guitar down from the attic. Buy yourself a novel. It’s not rocket science but some of the most frustrated people in the world are the people who only eat, drink, work and sleep. There is so much more to life.
5. Tap into your innate capacity to be kind. Is there someone you know who is lonely? Maybe, someone you know was bereaved during the past year? A neighbour or relative in hospital or an old peoples’ home? Make contact with them NOW and let that inner kindness within you flow through you. Let them know that you have been thinking about them. Is there anything you can do for them? Kindness is its own reward. You will feel the benefits within hours. If you have a child bring him or her with you on this kindness journey. Maybe, they could make a get well card? Let them be a witness to the kindness. It’s the only way they will learn it.
Happy new year and lets tap into our own wonderful potential to colour each day beautifully.
(c) Shane Martin