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Monday, December 31, 2012

No Resolutions

I do not make New Year's resolutions. It is not a matter of thinking that I am above it, or that I think resolutions are silly. I admire people who make a conscious decision to start the year anew, and stick to something that they want to accomplish. I just think that a lot of people set goals for themselves that are just too hard to live up to. It's very easy in the thrall of the moment to say that you are going to quit swearing or stop eating all sweets or get up at 4:30 every morning and go to the gym before you attack your day. The resolution is so big that when we can't live up to the goals, we lose faith in ourselves and abandon the resolutions entirely. They become a reminder that we are weak and fallible.

I did make one resolution many years ago that I did keep, and that I keep to this day. Back in the long ago, there were seatbelts and then shoulder restraints, but no laws saying that you must use them. One year I decided that from then on, any time I was in a car I would have my seatbelt on. It is something I still do, and shall continue to do. I know that it is a small thing. But I also know that it saved me from greater harm during a couple of auto accidents. Sometimes small goals can save lives.

Taking that train of thought, that small things can have a big impact, I'd like to make some suggestions regarding resolutions, whether they be for New Year's or at any other time. Let's set ourselves up for growth and success, rather than failure. Instead of promising that we will go to the gym every day, perhaps we can set goals to work out three or four days a week. Instead of the unrealistic (and impossible for most of us!) goal of never eating sweets again, perhaps we can set a goal to have sweets no more than twice a week, or whatever number works for us. I don't know about you, but nothing makes me crave a food quite as much as not being able to indulge in it at all. But if I can eat a little of it instead of trying to fight off the urge, I am less likely to dive headfirst into a vat of whatever treats I have been trying to avoid.

And let's face it. Even though I am telling all of you that I don't make resolutions, that does not mean I don't have hopes to improve myself in the coming year, or coming years. They are deeply personal to me, as I am sure most people's are, but let me say this. I hope every day to be a kind and gentle person. I hope to give myself permission to fail, and to succeed. I hope to remember that being patient can be a gift not only to others but to myself. I hope to be able to occasionally make someone's day. I hope to be brave enough to ask someone who looks unhappy if they need someone to talk to, even if it is a stranger. I hope to fill someone's heart with joy because of an unexpected act of kindness. I hope to make myself a better person. I hope to help make the world a better place. A place full of hope.