The Prairie Sage: New Years Resolution
"Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle." Plato
Ghosts of Resolutions Past
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. In fact, I bet I could create a perfect life. In theory.
I could lose weight, give up sugar, and exercise every day. I could work hard, make more money, and succeed in life. I could change my relationships, never yell or swear again, and be nice to everyone, all the time.Oh the things I could do. The possibilities seem limitless as a new calendar lays untouched before me. Each month offers a new opportunity to start over and be different.
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.
One mistake could set me on a path of anger and frustration as I rant about my inability to do one simple thing to improve my life. This year though, I resolve to be different. Things will change, this year.
Your own resolutions
Do you typically make New Year resolutions?
All of these past failures bring me to today, and my New Year's Resolution for this year. One. I am making one resolution. Not one list. Not one series of similar resolutions. Just one. One Resolution.
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. That begins the struggle I have with being consistently kind.
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. As I begin practicing kindness toward myself, it will grow outward. Hopefully my family will benefit directly from my one resolution.
Be Kind to Yourself
After years of harsh talking, negative thinking and unfulfilled expectations, how exactly do I be kind to myself? This may be the hardest resolution I have ever undertaken. 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. I will practice 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. I will accept and believe that I am capable, that I am lovable, and doggone it, people like me.
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.
As I practice kindness to myself, I expand that treatment outward, to those I love. We are usually the hardest on those to whom we are the closest. Instead of holding my husband and children to impossibly high standards, I plan to practice kindness. I will overlook small grievances and irritations. I will wish them well throughout the day. I will leave unnecessary, snarky comments unspoken. I will treat my family with the same measure of grace, compassion and forgiveness that I extend to strangers. And I will offer it to myself as well.
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.