Ah! the New Year and all the hope, energy, and resolutions it brings. I woke up on the first day of the year and browsed a bit through the news pages to find one too many articles on how to keep New Year’s resolutions. Curious, I read a few articles that offered some tips on how to keep the resolutions and one that caught my eye had advice on how to make resolutions more realistic.
Shouldn’t we all aim for realistic objectives? Transforming any life takes time, a long time, how can we deceive ourselves thinking that one year is enough time to, say, change a body that has indulged for too many years into a triathlete ‘s body over a meager 365 days. The article I read summed up that philosophy; it took the usual resolutions and scaled them down to doable objectives: Want to run a marathon? How about resolving to walk 30 minutes 3 times a week for a start? I had a ball reading the scaled down objectives and imagining all the people reading this or other articles, downloading apps and purchasing all sorts of gear to prepare for their “new life of 2016”.
Why do the media push the idea that with the New Year we need a new us, a new life, a new job, a new anything? What is so wrong with who we are? Truly, what is so wrong with our lives that we have to transform them completely? And how the hell are we supposed to become a “new me” especially when we like who we are already. I am not saying there’s no room for improvement, I am the queen of “there’s always room for improvement”, just ask my husband, but I do not understand the idea pushed onto us that with a new year we need to change it all. Why can’t we be happy with what we have and still improve our lives? If that is the message media is aiming for, then they are failing miserably. All the material I read spoke of changing it all, making it happen through realistic goals if you will, but the underlying message of the articles I read was clear: New, new, new, change, change, change. Not a single one spoke of building from what we had, of realizing how much we already have, of being grateful.
I am not a cynic, I do understand the renovation feeling we get when closing one chapter in our lives and starting a new one. I have been a “resolutionist” myself, with many failed attempts and a few victories. I know and have seen what sheer will power can do and have seen people transform their lives, only it does not happen in the first couple of weeks in January.
True transformation is not subject to a date, place or hour, much less to the ringing in of a New Year. In all honesty how many of us can actually wake up and run 5 kilometers on January 1st after being out all night partying to celebrate the commencement of their “new life”? Not many, at least not me. And while jumping on the wagon of starting new projects, changing habits, following the whole realistic resolutions path does sound a very attractive way to beat the holidays blues (which, by the way I believe is the real reason behind the resolutions frenzy), one thing came popping into my mind as I read and saw all those tips, articles and slide shows on resolutions for the New year: “How damn lucky I am to only want to improve certain aspects of my life, I have a life, a very good life, I do not want this “new life” they propose, how many people can say that? Most likely all of us, but all this media frenzy of thenew life is distracting us from realizing how much we already have in the old.”
After a tumultuous 2015 around the world, with so many economic woes, mounting humanitarian crises, clashes between countries and unforgivable losses in so many aspects, I realized I am grateful to see a new year. I wonder if the state of the world would improve if all those resolutions that aim to get what we do not have were changed for gratefulness for all the things we do have. Would we all change a lot more and a lot faster if, instead of starting the year looking forward to achieving our new set goals and attain what we think is missing in our lives, we looked back and be grateful for all the things we had during the past year? Perhaps our new year would be better if we shifted our focus from what we are missing to all that we already have. Perhaps gratefulness could power our will to reach our goals better than apps, tips and new gear; perhaps I am just too happy and relaxed after my vacation and writing a bunch of nonsense or, perhaps, I am onto something.
We may debate for hours if my hypothesis is valid, in the mean time I have created a list of things that I am grateful for that require new efforts to keep them in my life. Humor me, and let me call them “gratefulness powered resolutions”, I know it sounds oddand whoever is reading this is more than welcome to criticize, laugh, disregard or join them. As for me, well I do believe that when I take a look at the list below it will be easier to stick to these resolutions and enjoy same old life, than have a new app remind me to get up and move my butt in order to achieve my “new life”.
Paola’s gratefulness powered resolutions:
- I am grateful to have to make more time for my husband and I; it means he’s still with me and we still want to spend time with each other having fun and that our daughters are healthy and thriving and demanding love and time from their parents.
- I am grateful to have to be a better daughter/family member; it means I have my parents, brother and sisters, in-laws, cousins, etc., in my life.
- I am grateful to have to wake up earlier this year; it simply means that I can still wake up and that my daughters have grown and wake up earlier to go to school, which in turn means they can learn and live in a peaceful country where school is their priority, not surviving to see the next uncertain day.
- I am grateful to have to work harder this year; it means I still have the job that I love and opportunities to grow as a professional.
- I am grateful to have a few pounds to shed during this year and work harder at eating better; it means I had more than enough during the holidays, that I have access to healthy food and that each pound was gained in a table surrounded by family and friends who were happy and sharing.
- I am grateful to have to exercise more this year, it means I can move and work out, that my body can get healthier and that I have the time, will and possibility to exercise, many people cannot.
- I am grateful to have to save more this year; it means I have enough and will not consume mindlessly and that I am working to have a stable future.
- I am grateful to make an effort to see my friends more, it means I still have friends who want to see me and share their lives with me.
- I am grateful for having to find the time to write more; it means someone still wants to read what I write.
- Finally, I am grateful to have my old life in the New Year; it means I am alive.
© Paola Sanchez, 2016