Monday, February 15, 2016

Never Make or Break a New Year's Resolution Again

I have absented myself from a good bit of social media engagement for many months. Personal and professional reasons caused me to limit interactions. But I'm back, with what I hope will be interesting and sometimes provocative posts about interactions among family, friends, and strangers. Titled "Romance Righter", these blog posts are about all kinds of love, including loving yourself, not just the romantic kind. So read on!

A dear friend and my bestest, long-standing crit partner and I were talking about making New Year’s Resolutions. I listed mine last year in a blog post. Sad to say, a huge number were (like most of Americans’ resolutions) broken. Some even shattered. Sigh. Same ole, same ole, right? Good intentions and the road to hell got more pavement laid down.

Sandy said she doesn’t “do” resolutions; she hasn’t done so for years. She was reacting to the negativity of the concept. Her point was that to make a resolution is to say “I must have stuff wrong with me if I have to identify ways to fix me. Ways, by the way, that I will likely violate and never resolve so what’s the point?”

Umm. She had a point.

Instead, Sandy chooses a word to live by for the year. A word that she reaches through meditation. A word that she can apply to the multiplicity of elements that make her, her.

In 2015, her word of the year was “Wisdom.”

In 2016, she chose “Harmony.” She will strive for harmony in the cells of her body, the balance of personal and professional activities, and in making choices that affect all areas of her life. She posts her word for the year beside the door leading to her garage so she sees it each time she leaves her home.

Is that brilliant or what?

Never one to be left behind when great ideas float into my path, I jumped on that right away. But picking a word of this import is not so easy. I latched onto a number of words, most of which were my former resolutions boiled down to one word. “Judgementaless” (huh?). “Write”. “Reduce”.

That kind of thing, and it just wasn’t working. I was stuck in the “broken me” paradigm. I wasn’t really getting the intent of Sandy’s progressive perspective. And then it came to me.

My 2016 word, posted in bold and large print next to my workspace, is “Mindfulness”.

The word reminds me (ha! See?) to thoughtfully consider my decisions and to be present in the moment instead of regretting the past or living in the future.

And you know that serendipity thing? The synchronicity thing? Once you latch onto a word, it's everywhere. It's amazing to me how many times I have encountered the term since January.

When I am mindful, I make eating decisions with awareness. When I am mindful, I make exercise decisions deliberately. When I am mindful, I choose to hold onto grudges or let them go. As a mindful person, I make choices about the balance between my professional-writing time and personal-connections time. It plays out in every aspect of my life so far.

And so far it is working better than my resolutions ever have. I chose to write about this, half way through February, because by this time most of us will have broken one or many more resolutions.

But with mindfulness staring back at me the whole time I am at my desk, I am more likely to take that break every hour so I don’t risk heart disease. With mindfulness in my sight, I am more likely to write when I am at my desk than get caught up in the social media blender. Mindfulness challenges me to consider implications of personal interactions and conversations. And even unspoken thoughts. I am more mindful of making judgments about people’s actions and motivations.

Am I perfect? Am I always mindful? Pshaw! You know that isn’t so, but each time I note mindfulnesses presence, I am reminded of what I promised myself 2016 can be. And I am more mindful than I have ever been. That’s good news for 2016.

What word would help you to move through this year more successfully?

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