Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's Resolutions

Some years I make New Year's Resolutions, some years I don't. But rather than a list that looks more like an inventory of failures and recriminations for all the things I haven't been doing right, with a very slim chance of getting it all right next year either, I use resolutions as a way to count my blessings, take stock, and decide what I want to bring into my life this new year.

In fact, I usually feel a great deal of excitement and optimism going into the New Year, as well as a fair amount of inspiration to bring things into my life that I really want. It really feels like an opportunity to make a fresh start and make some choices for my life on purpose, rather than by default.  Instead of a list of shoulds, it has become a list of wants.

Sure, there are always some things we should do ... stop smoking, lose weight, exercise more ... but if all we have is a list of "shoulds," there's very little chance we're going to feel good about them or actually implement them.  So, instead, I make a list of things I want to include in my life, and that makes all the difference.  I'm always extremely motivated to include more fun things into my life that I actually want, so it's usually a very pleasant process.

So, first things first ...

Counting My Blessings
We just took a tally of all the things we're grateful for in November for Thanksgiving.  We ousted the Scrooge from our hearts and replaced him with the spirit of joy, kindness and generosity during December, and were showered with the gifts and appreciation of our friends and loved ones in return.  Now we begin a New Year with a whole, new armload of blessings and riches gained ... so, once again, we count our blessings.

Many people keep a Gratitude Journal as a way of diligently recording all the good things in their lives.  It has been said that writing down just 3 different things each day that we're grateful for, for 21 days, is all it takes to create positive impacts in our health and lives.  We are rewiring the way we look at life, we nurture a sense of gratitude and thankfulness every day, and our lives change because of it.  If it changes our lives in as little as 21 days, imagine what 365 days of gratitude will do!

Instead of resolving to be a more positive, happier person ...

I resolve to Sing every morning
Singing is joyful, uplifting, and changes your mood almost immediately. Even if I wake up on the wrong side of the bed that day, singing some of my favorite songs first thing in the morning changes my energy almost immediately. Some people may choose to exercise first thing in the morning, but for me ... this is the easiest and fastest and most joyful way for me to make an immediate improvement to my day.

Instead of resolving to not be angry or grouchy ...

I resolve to Laugh more
Laughing is a good workout for both the spirit and my internal organs. Much like singing, it brings more oxygen into the system, clears out stagnant air, gets the blood moving, works out muscles, and massages our internal organs. It's easy to laugh ... there's always a comedy we can watch, a funny book to read, or a website of jokes to peruse. I recently watched an old Ellen Degeneres stand-up routine on Netflix and was absolutely howling with laughter. I had to ask myself why I didn't watch more comedy routines and get a good laughing workout into my day or my week or my month. In the New Year, I'm going to make it a priority to include some laughter into my day, every day.  This year, comedy is going to become a high value priority for me.

Instead of trying to be more spiritual ...

I resolve to Meditate daily
The first is vague and hard to really implement, while meditating is something you can just do.  Even if at first it seems like nothing is happening, stick with it.  Twenty minutes a day can sometimes be enough to make that vital connection with your own voice that can provide you with the direction you need in your life, in order to make the right decisions.  The most successful people seem to count meditation as one of their most valuable tools.  Shouldn't this be a tool in your back pocket, as well?

Instead of resolving to lose weight ...

I resolve to Eat better
That just sounds so much easier and less stressful to do. I have always enjoyed my vegetables, and eating lighter and more balanced meals is not only doable, but easy. We can absolutely enjoy the occasional treat if most of the time we're eating well and eating more nutritionally. Taking my vitamins, and drinking more water are simple steps anyone can take that are no hardship whatsoever.

Instead of resolving to exercise ...

I resolve to Move more
Dancing, playing, getting out more, spending more time outside ... all of these things bring more movement into our lives, and more steps on our fitbit counter.  And instead of staring at the countdowns on the treadmill, we're actually participating in life:  going out dancing, going out to the movies, window shopping, attending more events, exploring neighborhood streets or walking trails, biking, walking the dog, watching or playing in sports leagues (softball, volleyball, soccer, bowling, etc.), attending festivals or farmers' markets, etc.  Being more active not only makes us move more, it also adds more life to our lives.

Instead of resolving to drink more water ...

I resolve to Drink more Tea
Tea is warming, soothing, calming, sometimes even medicinal, and certainly more healthful. Drinking tea is a reminder to take care of myself, to be more mindful, to take some moments to slow down and contemplate.  Remembering to drink more tea may also keep me from eating more, which is an additional benefit.

Sure, we can still also focus on bad habits we want to break if we want to on our New Year's Resolutions.  But it always feels better to add than to take away, so don't forget all the things you want to add to your experience this year.  Here are a few more I'm thinking about adding to my list:

  • A destination I plan to visit this year
  • A skill I plan to develop this year
  • A project I want to start this year
  • A project I want to finish this year
  • What I want to give more of my attention to this year
  • What I want to do more passionately and enthusiastically this year ...

Happy New Year, everybody!!

.........................

Enjoy previous seasonal blog posts:

Christmas Notes
There's always time to bake Christmas cookies!
A Fresh Start
Smoothies to begin the year off right!
How It All Began
The very beginnings of Afternoon Tea.
A Very Foodie Town
It's almost time for Restaurant Week again!
Romancing Your Life
Setting the scene to fall in love with your own life.
Romantic Foods
Something special ...
Pear Tart, Part Deux
A time for rustic, a time for elegant.
Salty Sweets
Finishing salts on your dessert.
What's Your Favorite Cake?
If only I could pick just one!
Spring Cleaning
Tackling and taming the clutter.


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