I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions, since I find myself making the same ones year after year. Wash, rinse and repeat. I guess that means they never really worked for me.
Or perhaps instead it’s a matter of me being unrealistic: After all, setting new behaviors is not a once-and done. To achieve something truly worthwhile can take years of planning and hard work. Success is rarely so simple. Trial and error; two steps forward and one step back, and all that.
But with a new year approaching, and that year being 2020, I can’t get away from thinking of the word “hindsight.” As the saying goes, “hindsight is 2020.” We can look back and learn from the past.
If we’re paying attention, that is. Yet so many times, we fail to really pay attention, or we fail to remember or really reflect at all.
So, maybe in the new year, rather than make resolutions, we should look back and examine what we’ve learned from hindsight and how we can steer it forward to enable us to live a better, healthier and happier life.
But first, a disclaimer: I usually shun clichés, but when I think about it, they exist because, well, they’re true. So with that in mind, please excuse any that might have slipped into my list.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Guilty as charged. But the small stuff usually turns out to be just that – small. Save your energy for the things that really matter. You’ll need it.
- Pay attention to – and be aware of – subtle health signs. They usually clue you into a bigger something, but only if you know what to look for. When I began to experience problems with my left eye, which included flashes and blurry vision, I got it checked out. It turned out I had a detached retina, which required emergency surgery to save my sight. Don’t gloss over health information, thinking it could never happen to you; it could, and it just might.
- Speak up. I’ve always hated confrontations, opting instead for being “nice” and quietly retreating to avoid any and all conflict. But with each year, I feel more empowered and justified to speak up, and less worried about what people will think of me. It’s a work in progress; not always easy but so rewarding when all the pieces come together. Hence, at restaurants, I (strive to) send back my food if it’s too salty or not hot enough; I speak up when I think the cost of something is unjustified; I (gently) tell a friend or loved one that what they did was hurtful. Keeping quiet is so 2019.
- Your body is your temple. Okay, another cliché, but so true. Honor your body. It’s the only one you have, and it’s sacred. There’s no need to abuse it or feel helpless to outside temptations trying to get in. You and only you are in charge, and why not treat it lovingly and carefully?
- Smile more. The mere act of smiling automatically make you feel better – it releases endorphins (our body’s natural painkillers) and elevates your mood, and increases positive thoughts, according to research. But smiling has countless other benefits: It makes you look more attractive to others (people are naturally drawn to people who smile); it boosts your immune system; lowers your blood pressure, helps you stay positive and – here’s the one I like the best – makes other people smile. I like to challenge myself by finding a stranger who looks grumpy and unhappy and smiling at them to see if I can get them to smile back. It usually works.
Happy 2020 and thanks for reading! May you prosper in the coming year, and bring valuable lessons with you to propel you to new heights.