No, seriously. You are. Perfect. I know it’s hard to believe, but bear with me a minute.
It’s the first of the year and everywhere, everyone is looking back at 2013, itemizing and analyzing their lives, and spitting out formulas for improvement in 2014. The harsh scrutiny that people subject themselves to year round gets ratcheted up a few extra notches in January. You walk down the street and can practically hear a silent cacophony of thought: “Those extra pounds must be lost!” “That debt must be paid down!” “I must get a raise!” “I must get a boyfriend!” “I must get a grip!”
New Years resolutions are expected, even encouraged. But what if you don’t need them…?
For perhaps the first time in my life, January 1st has been a lovely, pleasant, ordinary day. I just got back to Brooklyn after working out of town for a few months and visiting family for the holidays, so today involved some unpacking, sleeping late and having breakfast with my husband, Skyping with a friend, returning emails, writing this blog. You know, ordinary things. And I had a lovely time doing them. And it also happened to be the first day of the first month of the year 2014. But for the first time today, the first didn’t mean anything. Today, I wasn’t ruminating on whether I’ve achieved enough or strategizing ways to achieve more in the year to come. I wasn’t berating myself for my shortcomings and vowing to improve in the future. Today, I was just doing what was in front of me and enjoying myself in the process. Today I was living myself, instead of worrying about it.
See, the whole resolution thing is a kind of trap. You make resolutions. You work to achieve them. Sometimes you quit on yourself and then you feel crummy. Sometimes you do actually achieve the resolutions and feel a momentary blip of accomplishment or satisfaction but pretty soon it’s back to the drawing board and the next project of self-improvement. And the cycle begins again. Embedded in the very nature of resolutions is the sneaky premise that something in you sucks and needs fixing. I used to think that about myself and it lead to a whole lot of pain and unpleasantness. But I don’t buy into that racket anymore. And I don’t buy the need for resolutions, either.
Cause, look. In this moment, you can’t be any different than you are. Not really. And that’s the good news, because when you stop trying so hard to improve yourself, trying so hard to control the uncontrollable future, you give yourself permission to simply be yourself – exactly as you are, foibles and quirks and all – and that’s when magical, unforeseeable things can happen! When you stop being so flippin’ hard on yourself, grace has a way of slipping quietly into your pocket when you’re not looking. Things get easier. They transform. And so do you.
Have no fear. Relaxing into yourself won’t make you lazy. Or complacent. Or stagnant. I mean, look at me! I had an incredibly productive day today. One that was also enjoyable and restful. Maybe you thought those things couldn’t co-exist. They can.
But, as LeVar Burton says, you don’t have to take my word for it. If you’re intrigued by what I’ve written here, if you want some of this resolution-free wellbeing for yourself and a kick-ass start to the New Year, here’s three events you might want to check out. Maybe I’ll see you there.