I used to make New Year’s resolutions but at some point when I realized people didn’t attain their resolutions, I stopped making them. Enough psychology taught me that life changes are behaviors that are cultivated and grown over years and years…foolish to think that somehow in a month or a day you could wake up and be motivated to change something you weren’t able to before. I have tried to do away with resolutions anchored to a time frame. If a change is important, necessary, sought after, then I believe you should begin working and striving to that goal the moment you recognize its importance.
At the same time, I have come to appreciate that setting dates really do help many people. Agreeing on a time frame, vocalizing wishes and desires, being honest about what you do not like in yourself are all important and meaningful steps towards actually changing something core about who you are.
I hadn’t really given much thought to a resolution this year. I have been actively trying to incorporate small meaningful changes in my life throughout this past year and find it a little silly to think that at midnight my outlook and motivations will change. But sometimes they do. Sometimes it is as easy as waking up with a purpose. Sometimes it is as easy as telling a friend how you wish to change, so they can be the support you need. As I was having my coffee this morning after a gym workout with my mom (the butts and guts challenge we just finished before the new year!)…I read an essay in the Wall Street Journal and found it engaging and appropriate.
I was intrigued by the article’s title….I love novels, especially ones where the depth and subtly of the content or prose can change my thoughts and beliefs about life.
The essay was about Finnish author Arto Paasilinna’s most famous novel, “The Year of the Hare” (1975). He delves into a short description of the plot and artfully connects the novel to his own life experiences. I particularly liked these two excerpts:
“I was killing the hours before my flight back to New York by wandering through the little town of Narita, and something in the quiet stillness of the streets, the mildness of the late October light, told me of everything I was missing in my daily life at home.”
“All I could do, as I watched the flames pick apart my life, was listen to opera on the radio. The only peace of mind I could find came from realizing how little I could bend circumstances to my will.”
They each somehow struck a cord with me and centered what should be the focus of my resolution, to better appreciate and honor the now. To appreciate the quiet stillness, to enjoy nature, to find solace in understanding that I can only do so much and how sometimes doing the smallest things can calm chaos.
He concludes with this:
“The best resolution to make this New Year’s Day might be to open your eyes to everything around you—while also recalling that most of our lofty resolutions will ultimately come to naught.”
I think I may borrow Mr. Iyer’s resolution this year and strive to live 2011 with my eyes open and with my feet grounded in understanding goals that are worth changing and those that I am capable of changing.