Got any good New Year’s resolutions lined up and ready to roll this year? Try this for an alternative – spend time focusing on the version of you that people will love, admire and respect, long after your skinny-jeans ship has sailed.
Take a fresh look at your resolutions
If you’re anything like us, dropping a dress size and firming up errant flabby bits are probably up there on your list. To this end, you might promise yourself you’ll give up junk food, booze and late night snacking. Maybe you’ll also resolve to hit the gym every single day as part of your new workout schedule. You know, like you did last year and the year before that! Sure, it’s admirable to want to improve your health and it’s nice to feel good in your clothes but, let’s be honest now, making those same resolutions over and over has little to do with health and a lot to do with vanity.
This is your real life
Perhaps we believe, on some wacky subconscious level, if we fix those pesky appearance ‘problems’, our whole lives will become infinitely more fabulous; a few kilos down and we’ll not only be thinner but prettier, more desirable, more successful and therefore, happier. You know that’s not how it works, right? A quick dig beneath the surface of the life of anyone who appears to have it all – looks, money, fame, success – reveals those things aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
The heart of what matters
Here’s what’s more important than the size of your thighs or your bank account or how many ‘likes’ you can garner with a strategically posed selfie – your heart; your compassion; being a good friend, parent, son or daughter, sibling or partner. Also key here: knowing what’s right, standing up for yourself and others, speaking up, fighting for it. Then, believing whatever your shape, size or current relationship, work or financial status, you are worth it. And following your dreams and passions, stepping outside your comfort zone, daring greatly and loving wildly.
Do more of this
Look up from your phone. Appreciate today. Pay attention. Notice stuff. Be amazed and awed by simple, ordinary things – the quiet of morning before everyone’s up, that first divine sip of coffee, the sound of rain on the roof, the vastness of a star-filled night sky, the beauty of a flower, the smell of fresh-cut grass, a child’s laughter. What amazes you?
When it’s tough to see past frustrations and big picture problems, a daily gratitude check can help you regain perspective. Messy home? Be thankful for the people who live and love there. People expecting to be fed every night? How wonderful to have money for food and loved ones to nurture. (Even if they do expect you to be a short-order cook.)
Sometimes, people are horrid in small, mean ways. Forgive them anyway. Whether it’s your spouse, your boss or the stranger who cuts you off in traffic, take a deep breath, exhale, shake it off, let it go. Remember, ‘When they go low, we go high.’ (Thanks to US first lady Michelle Obama for this wonderful quote!) Hanging on to anger and resentment, especially when petty, is just bad juju for you, not them!
Believe in yourself
You are good enough. You have enough. You are strong enough. You can do this. Silence the voice inside your head that would have you believe you’re an imposter, a fraud just waiting to be found out. That voice lies.
Resolve to stop doing things that do not make you feel good, whether it’s eating poorly or spending time with people who suck the lifeblood out of you. Nourish yourself physically, spiritually and emotionally. Pursue your dreams and passions, make time for fun.
Trying to please
Newsflash – it’s not your job to please all of the people all of the time, even though you might feel a misplaced responsibility to do so. With polite conviction, say no when you mean no, yes when you mean yes. If, for example, you’re invited to an event or asked to take on a commitment and you say yes because you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or have people think less of you when, truthfully, you would rather eat boiled and salted pig’s eyes. well, you’re likely to become a mess of secret regret and resentment. The option? Just say, ‘No thanks!’
Change can be scary, for sure. Fear of the great unknown keeps many a person stuck doing the same old, same old, even when it’s long past time to move on. Borrow a practice from Buddhism and hold less tightly to material possessions, places, ideas, opinions and yes, even people, because everything changes. Embracing change allows the new and wonderful to slip in and surprise you; it allows you to evolve and grow.
Apologising for yourself
Say you’re sorry only when you have something to be sorry for. Don’t apologise for having an opinion and voicing it, for disagreeing with someone or for not wanting to do something. And if you’re constantly explaining yourself, feeling the need to justify your every move and word. You don’t!