2012 is here.
New Years Resolutions are being made and broken all across the nation.
If you crane your neck and turn your ear to just the right angle, you can pretty much hear it happening. It’s not unlike the sound of baby birds taking their first chirps after hatching from their shells, only to be discovered and savagely ravaged by the neighborhood predatory creature, probably a feline of some sort.
Hope and promise, met with swift and certain demise.
I can also hear the collective chirp of New Years Resolution-makers from atop their elliptical and treadmill perches, as they extol their virtuousness for engaging in this novel thing called cardiovascular exercise.
I see smiles spread across their faces as they bask in the faint red glow of the inflated calorie expenditure calculations on the exercise machine panels.
I sense their smug grins as they stop at the smoothie bar on the way out of the gym to suck down a sugarific and workout-negating slurpable meal.
And in case it’s not readily evident, let me just state for the record that I’m not into the whole New Year’s Resolution thing.
I’ve had nothing but unmitigated disdain for New Year’s Resolutions ever since I was in college and all the Johnny-come-lately January exercisers usurped my beloved ellipticals and treadmills at Holy Cross’ grievously under-equipped gym. The exercise machine to exerciser ratio was skewed so much during the months of January and February that a struggle muffin had but two choices: wait in line to nab a machine for longer than the desired workout would last, or brave the Worcester wind and cold to run outside. Frigid temps be damned, I ran outside.
So strong is my contempt for NYR’s that I’ve assigned a special nomenclature to its adherents: New Year’s Resolutionaries. Not altogether unlike a revolutionary, a resolutionary is compelled and empowered by a cause.
I get it.
But the difference between the two is that Resolutionaries’ causes are predicated on little more than widely-embraced yet somewhat shallow cultural customs. Make changes, make improvements, cultivate healthy habits. Because the clock struck 12:00am on January 1st and/ or everyone else is doing it.
There’s no meaning in that.
Sure, making resolutions does confer the benefit to participating resolutionaries of being able to tap into the feverish surge of energy and enthusiasm that accompany the rampant behavior modifications happening near and far.
Ride that wave. Skirt on the coattails of collectively sought-after self-improvement.
What’s worked well for me is treating resolutionaries as I would zombies. Once encountered, they can’t be avoided. I try to dodge them as best I can but it’s not always possible. When accosted by one on the street, in a store, on the train or in some other public place, I find it serves me best to activate my Go Go Gadget Glassy Eyes, rendering myself dazed and confused, leading the resolutionary to lose interest and seek another soapbox from which to soliloquize.
Stay quiet. Stay still. As lifeless as possible. Don’t even take a sip from your skinny vanilla late. If you can’t be detected, you can’t be mutilated/ forced to hear about about the wonders of Weight Watchers’ new flex points system and what it can do to whittle a waistline. They’re pretty much the same thing in my mind.
Pessimism aside, I do see the value in making changes. Being open to change. Adapting to the undercurrent of change that flows continuously, like it or not, realize it or not.
Change is good. And wise is the person who can recognize this and respond accordingly.
So here’s what I’ma do about it. I’m adopting a mantra. A simple phrase that reminds me of what I want to work on in 2012. Of what’s important to me as a whole human being, not as a body trying to wedge itself into too-tight jeans.
That’s my mantra.
Wait a sec…
So yeah, mantras.
We’re only a few days into 2012, but so far the mantra method has served me well.
I think it’s easier to commit to a fairly subjective goal. Something that can be qualified instead of quantified.
I find myself getting worked up and over-thinky and tell myself, ‘self: be calm‘ and then I be calm. Or get calm. Find calm. You know what I mean.
And it’s pretty neato because you can make it as simple or as specific as you want. Open-ended or situational.
Brake for animals.
Back away from the donuts.
The possibilities are endless!
I’ve also taken to asking myself, in the heat of a frenzied moment, would I want to be friends with me right now? If I weren’t me, that is. Would I like/ tolerate/ respect the person I am right now, in this moment, in this situation? And if the answer is no, I make some tweaks.
If I wouldn’t want to be friends with me, I wouldn’t expect anyone else to.
And that’s what’s working for me. Though it’s clearly not my chosen path, I respect the New Year’s Resolution route if it truly provides the accountability needed to make lasting and effective changes.
How do you approach change in the new year? Mantras? Resolutions? Ultimatums? Aspirations?