Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bright and Shiny

It's the new year, and just past the eclipses. Did you make your serious, life changing new years resolutions? No? Good for you! After all, why start your new year by setting yourself up for failure?

I am a personal (fitness) trainer. I spent years working in, and then running a gym. Every year, we would get floods of new members in January. You always knew who would stick it out, and it was never the person who would say with a sigh, or a rueful smile that "this year, really! this year I am going to get into shape!" By Valentines Day, they would be gone and life would get back to normal for the people who wanted to work out. That is the difference. The people who stuck it out were the ones who wanted to be there. Whether it was because they found the actual workouts pleasurable, or whether they had specific, reachable goals or a death threat*, those who found the specifics of working out useful, hung around.

Many of the bloggers that I read have made resolutions/vows/promises to blog more often, and post regularly, on a specified day. To them, I say "good luck!" But as for me, been there, done that, and I don't like setting myself up for failure.

The best resolutions are the ones that you can keep, and that resonate in your life. Gordon has a post here: http://runesoup.com/2011/01/8-happiness-hacks-to-get-you-through-january/
on well, happiness. And finding the small sustainable ways to happiness are your best bets for those resolutions that resonate. From small acorns mighty oaks grow, people! Or the single grain of sand starts the landslide, or...fill in your own aphorism.

As an example, some years ago, overwhelmed by the needs of motherhood, and working and filling what I saw as the requirements of being a good spouse, much of my life was that of utility, necessity, corner-cutting, and a lack of "ease." Frankly, I wanted a life with grace. My resolution that year? From that point on, I would use only slices of actual, real lemon in my tea, rather than bottled lemon juice. It was where I drew the line on short cuts and "good enough" in my life. And, you know what? Since that time, I have never gone without lemon for my tea. A single point of grace, and the constant confirmation that 1. I can keep a resolution and 2. small happiness's every day brighten my life far better than the rare big deals. (DH, if you are reading this, it does NOT mean that my upcoming significant birthday shouldn't be treated as a rare big deal!) Another year, I gave up cheap ball point pens. I only write with fountain pens or with a specific brand of gel pen. Why? Because the smooth flow of ink gives me pleasure. And, yes, every time I write something, I am aware of it. This year? I am going back to doing the New York Times crossword puzzles. I am not putting any conditions of success in finishing the (especially the end of week) puzzles, although I wouldn't mind getting the Monday puzzles done in under an hour...

Here's the deal. These little joys do not really cost anything except a little bit of thought right at the beginning. But they become self perpetuating very quickly because they cost so little in terms of time or money. I become a happier person. All other things being equal, a happier person has a far better life than a less happy person. Isn't there something that will do this for you?


*Death threat-usually surviving a heart attack or stroke, merely being threatened with either is insufficient.

4 comments:

Penny said...

I didn't make any resolutions at all except one: to love who I am. I like your lemon and pen change. We all need to take time to do the little things that make us happy. Mine, silly as it may be, is to use a real china cup when I have my tea at night. It just makes me feel like a girl :).

Here is to a new year,
Penny \IiiI

The Scribbler said...

I feel like I am being referred to, since I vowed to post weekly on Wednesdays, but I pointed out that the reason I'm doing that way is because I have experienced success with that strategy in the past due to profession habits built up over a number of years. That having been said, I know exactly what you are talking about. I was an aikido teacher for a short while, and what I noticed was that the ones who didn't last were the super fanatic ones who burned themselves out in a few weeks or months. The ones who lasted were the ones who, despite loving the art, paced themselves, and only came to the school twice or three times a week, knowing they were in this for the long haul, which meant many years of training. So I think it's a combination. It's the shear joy in the doing that you speak of, combined with a wise moderation to nurture the flame and not let it consume all the fuel at once.

Lavanah said...

Penny, drinking your tea from a real china cup, rather than whatever chipped mug might be handy is EXACTLY the kind of change that I was speaking of.

Lavanah said...

Yes, Scribbler, you were one of the bloggers to make the public announcement about the scheduled blogging. But I am really sorry if you read my "good luck with that!" as sarcasm, it wasn't meant that way. Some time ago, I made a very similar public statement, and it was a total failure for me, which is why I said that I knew that doing such a thing was setting myself up for failure. Know Thyself is a pretty good rule of thumb for so many things.