Yep. It’s the end of the year. Buh BYE, 2017! Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out! This is the time when we start to emerge from our eggnog-and-present-soaked haze and promise, under our breath, starting January 1st, things will be different.
We all get the drill. We make our lists, check them twice, and make a promise to ourselves to not be naughty.
I’m not trying to be cheeky, here. The truth is, we’ve all done it, or some form of it, before. Sometimes our resolve outlasts the naughtiness. Sometimes we emerge triumphant, all our resolutions checked off at the end of the year. To those readers I say, good on ya! You did it! You are our… inspiration! Yay!
But for the rest of us, those of us who try super hard but end up feeling not so great after a few days, or weeks, or months, inspiring might not be the word we use for you.
While thinking about this post, I ran into plenty of articles on New Year’s resolutions and how to stick to them. I even felt a little bubble of hope start to surface. That little bit of hope we probably all get as the old year departs and we find a fresh canvas in front of us. So, I’m going to propose something different. Call me the Anti-Resolutionist if you’d like, but here goes. I’m going to give you
a stack of the most common resolutions (do you see anything familiar?) and then offer up an alternative vision, hopefully a much more gentle vision, for us all.
(Thank you, New York Times, for this list. Clearly you are aware of my love for useless statistics!)
1. 38% Exercise More
Please, no inward groans here, but how about this? Exercise your voice. Just today, until tomorrow’s today, and so on, exercise your voice by telling someone you love them. I don’t care if it is your dog, your friend, your love, the tree outside your window. Say it. Just one catch. Say it to yourself first. (I said, no groaning!) Look yourself in the eyes, with your inside voice if you must, and say it. Let that be the beginning of the exercise for all of us. (Or at least 38% of us, but I’d like to up the percentage.)
2. 33% Lose weight.
While I’m ecstatic the egg nog has finally run out, I’m not so happy it’s been trying to, ahem, stick around. So how about this: lose the weight on your shoulders. Lose the weight of the world that wakes you up at 3 a.m. and tries to steal your breath and your hours of quality sleep. Worry does nothing. Well, nothing productive, anyway. It doesn’t make us smarter, more prepared, stronger, richer, cuter, more noble, or egg nog-free. Lose the weight of worry so you can show up in the moment and make your mark there. You will be surprised at how much better you will move when you, as my friend Snoop Dogg says, drop it like it’s hot.
3. 32% Eat more healthfully
Hard to argue with, I know, you 32 percenters. But how about this? Make sure everything you take in feeds you. I mean really nourishes you. Does a cluttered home feed you? Does that friendship that leaves you feeling not so friendly inside feed you? Does your work feed you? The cool thing is that we have choice. We do. Choosing something different can be scary, but we can still choose, even if it means creating a small uncluttered corner or choosing to explore ideas about work that WILL feed us, or branching out of our comfort zone to add friendships where we can be ourselves and feel good. Make a choice every second about what you let inside.
4. 15% Take a more active approach to health.
Hmmm. Again, temper the inward groans, please, but here goes: let’s ACTIVELY watch our thoughts. Sound like a bunch of hooey? It’s not. I know I have clients all over the country that are rolling their eyes and saying “Here Kemper goes again with the thought thing.” But it’s true. Our feeling states come from the thoughts we think. They don’t magically pop out of thin air. So, how about tuning in to the stories we tell ourselves? How’s that for an active approach to health? Our thoughts inform our feelings, which inform our mood AND our actions. How about being aware of that dialogue and not indulging it? How about noticing and then choosing to show up in the moment where stuff is actually happening in real time?
5. 15% Learn a new skill or hobby
I certainly hope this one will become a 100 percenter. How about this skill: breathe. That’s right. Breathe. I bet if I asked every one of you right now to notice your breath there would be a bunch of you barely breathing. Or holding your breath. Sound crazy? Try it. Just today, and then tomorrow’s today and so on, tune into your breath at random times. Awareness is a skill and so is breathing. Put those two together and voilá: welcome to the present moment. Do you see a theme here yet?
6. 12% Spend more time on personal well-being.
I can see why only 12 % chose this. Some days I feel like I don’t have “time” to spend on anything more than what I already do. So, how about this. I’m not sure what the definition of personal well-being is for you people, but I have a little challenge that might just get us closer to whatever that might be. Once we got this fancy, highly evolved brain and could engage in abstract thought, it’s like we, as a species, started acting like teenagers with a smartphone (or adults with a smartphone for that matter). We live there! Yes, just like the kids we have to ground from their technology, I’m grounding you. We are not just our brain, even though all of us are guilty of climbing in there and hunkering down. You are a body. An amazing machine that can do all kinds of cool stuff, even without you being present. So, back to that challenge: get back into that body and out of your head! Notice your shoulders, your toes, your back supported by the couch cushion, the bend in your knees. Your physical being. Spend time BEING in your body. Notice when you try to climb back in your head and lovingly guide yourself back to your body. Your brain and body are a team. Now that you are all grounded (no pun intended) I hope you will practice this. Now go to your room!
7. 12% Drink less alcohol.
So, I’m not surprised that only 12% of people went here. We are a culture that loves to check out, by whatever means available. No judgment, but how about this: check in. Get a little buzzed by what is in front of you. Try to capture that giddy feeling you had as a kid a time or two. Notice how, if you let it, it will show up in the tiniest of ways. The frost on the grasses off the side of the road on your morning commute, the sound of water, the laughter of children, the texture of an old, soft blanket. Get your buzz on by looking out with fresh eyes and letting it register, really register inside.
8. 9% Stop smoking
Whew, I’m already worn out. I think I started to wear out at number three, or was it four? Anyway, this is a good one, I must admit. But the truth is, I’m trying to save us from ourselves this New Years and be the neighborhood Anti-Resolutionist, remember? Yes, stop smoking. It’s bad for you. But how about this. Stop smoking inside. That’s right. Inside. So, you’re driving down the road and someone cuts you off. That burns, right? We go there, quick to anger, or one of anger’s cousins like irritation. Or rage. Notice it. Be angry if you want, it’s a human emotion. Just don’t stay smoking inside. Don’t add more fuel to the fire. Notice, then let go. The same goes for resentment. Now there’s a smoky, smoldering fire, hey? That’s one we have all fed a time or two. Intense emotions are always tough, but our job is to notice when they show up and respectfully let go of them when they are ready to leave. Which is oh, no more than 15 minutes or so when we’re not actively feeding them. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. (haha, I had to) Don’t burn up. Rather, tune into the feelings and then throw the doors and windows of your inner house wide open. Let yourself move on to the next emotional state. There will always be another- you were beautifully, magically, fabulously engineered that way. Let YOU work the way YOU are supposed to work once the fire trucks have come and gone. Trust me on this.
9. 1% Other
Other. Other. I like Other the best. Here’s where you actually get to be in the 1% if you aren’t already. There is no other life. This is it. This is your shot. Live it in all its shiny, messy, achy, smelly, enchanting, sparkling glory. No good or bad, ugly or pretty, nice or naughty. There’s just IS. Right now. Right here. This is where you get to be. And you won’t be bored because every moment is different. Live them all. Show up.
This year, let’s not beat ourselves up. Let’s try kindness, starting with ourselves, starting inside.
That’s the best anti-resolution resolution ever.
Peace and light, fellow travelers.