The Prairie Sage: New Years Resolution
"Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle." Plato
My New Year's Resolution
It's hard not to get caught up in the frenzy of resolution making. The possibilities of a brand new year, unblemished by bad habits seem limitless. Theoretically speaking, I could create the perfect year. Lose weight, give up sugar, exercise every day. Oh the things I could do. Fortunately, through many years of trial and error, I have learned a few things about myself. I like to exercise, but sometimes life gets in the way of planning, and I don't do it everyday. I know too much sugar is not good for my body. But I do love chocolate, so I might miss my goal of never eating sugar again and indulge in candy. When I resolve to stop swearing, inevitably I stub my toe and in frustration let out a string of swear words that would make a sailor blush. In the past, failing on my resolutions would cause me to spin into a pattern of negative thinking and self loathing, that would spiral out of control.
Which all brings me to today, and my New Year's Resolution for 2011. One. I am making one resolution. Not one list. Not series of resolutions. Just one. My resolution for this year is to be kind. Inherently, I am not unkind. Not necessarily. I am kind to people in the grocery store. Usually I am kind to waitresses, after working many years as one, I know what a tough job that is. I am kind to strangers. And usually to little kids and teenagers I don't know. I'm sure I read somewhere that charity begins at home. As does kindness.
Unfortunately, the people who suffer from my unkind ways are usually my husband and children. And myself. Of all the people I am unkind to, I am the worst to myself. So my resolution to be kind will begin with myself and extend to my family.
After years of harsh talking, negative thinking and unfulfilled expectations, how exactly do I be kind to myself? The first challenge will be to determine what that will look like. First, being kind to myself will involve living in the present moment. No longer worrying about what will happen tomorrow, next week or next month. No longer beating myself up for past mistakes, missteps and misspoken words. I will forgive myself and get on to living now. Just being in this moment, and enjoying it while I am here. Second, being kind to myself will involve accepting compliments with a “thank-you”, and a smile, rather than invalidating them with a shake of my head and “No, I don't deserve it.” Not only will I accept compliments from others, I will give them to myself. Instead of telling myself how dumb I am, or how fat, or ugly, I will congratulate myself for a job well done. Finally, I will be kind by respecting myself. Respect means knowing my limits and standing firm. It means not apologizing for my beliefs. It means not fearing what others will think. Self respect is something we all deserve. It is a gift to ourselves and those around us.
My resolution seems simple. The complexity lies in doing it. In each moment there is an opportunity to practice kindness. Even in the moments when I forget, I can begin again. Every day is a new chance to practice. And as I practice kindness, it will become a habit. And that is a resolution I think I can live with.
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