It’s that time of year when everyone looks to start fresh and thus begins a furious search for the perfect resolution, a goal for the new year that will make them better or bring the elusive happiness they seek. Some people hate resolutions on principle, others look down their noses at those who make them because they know ultimately, most get forgotten, but I like them. I believe there’s never a bad time for a fresh start or a new commitment to something positive in life. Because of that I tend to make resolutions throughout the year and find myself constantly adjusting my goals. Over the past few years I’ve made some progress in a few areas and I’d love to share them. Take them for what you will.
Last year I read Shonda Rhimes book, The Year of Yes. I hadn’t noticed how often I was saying no in my life and the depleted possibilities that came from it. I’m not talking about saying no when you need to (a worthy goal in and of itself that I’ve been pretty good at for a while now), I’m talking about saying no to opportunities that seem a little scary, expand your comfort zone, or even just take a little more energy than you think you have. You can’t meet new people, learn about new things, or imagine new possibilities without actively choosing to say yes to something. The ruts in which I’ve found myself in the past have always been deepened by saying no. It’s the yes that pulls you up and out and into life. I’ve almost gotten the hang of that one.
A resolution area that I’ve mastered in my mind but haven’t quite managed to live out through my choices yet is an attitude of limitlessness versus scarcity. When I taught interpersonal communication, I remember having an a-ha moment that the perception of scarcity, even when not real, leads to conflict. When we feel like not enough of what we need exists, we can act out in ways that lead to negative consequences. Whether it’s love, money, approval, or time, I need to understand that there’s enough. At work, I’m attempting to not feel that small, nagging jealousy when others get affirmation. There’s no limit on the amount of affirmation that can be given. It’s not like if my colleague receives it then my boss has run out of it for the year and I’m out of luck. In love, it’s not like people have finite hearts that run out of room. In my finances, it’s not like there aren’t infinite ways for me to better my income. I don’t have to feel conflicted on the inside or feel conflict with others based on false perceptions of scarcity. The world has enough of everything I need.
Physical health is always a big goal for people at the new year. About a year and a half ago I started walking at the park near my condo fairly regularly. At first it was because of my blood pressure, but as I continued I noticed that when I walked I felt less anxiety, less depression and was kinder to others. I also started feeling more connected to nature, so much so that I decided to name the trees on my path. (Read The Hidden Life of Trees if you can!) While some might hear that and conclude I should make a new goal about mental health, for me it was a giant step in finding and understanding my physical place in this world. It’s helped my to see that I am in relationship with my environment and that my choices have consequences, not only for the health of my body, but the health of the planet that surrounds me. It’s too easy to separate ourselves from the nature that makes life possible. Step outside this year. Name a tree.
Finally, if I had to make a resolution for 2017, knowing that I’m always still working on all of the above, I would add this. Let other people make their own choices. As a writer and an artist who loves to create stories, I often want people’s choices and decisions to fit the narrative in my head. When they don’t I feel disappointed, or like I need to do something to influence them because, of course, they should see it my way, right? This habit of looking at the choices of others only in the context of the life story I’ve created is arrogant and detrimental to my self and my relationships. You can’t have honesty without being open to truth. You also can never relax when you feel responsible for the choices of everyone around you. I’m hoping that in 2017, I can live like the lyrics from one of my favorite songs from the past year:
So come on let it go
Just let it be
Why don’t you be you
And I’ll be me
Love and luck to you in 2017!