With jingling bells at every corner and cheery lights decking every store, December is a truly happy month. Add to that hot soups, eggnog, cakes and pies, and shopping by the dozen, and you get a season that can make you joyful inside and out. But when Christmas goes by and New Year comes knocking, many of us tend to get into a self-effacing mode. All those unfinished businesses, the piled-on pounds, the excessive spending, and those unfulfilled resolutions begin to raise their less-than-welcome heads and make us feel not-happy about ourselves. So if you are anything like me, you sit down and have a good cry. Some tears and chocolate cake later, I find myself back with a pen and a paper, promising myself and all and sundry that this year, these resolutions will be done and I will be better! But will I be better? Or am I setting myself up for another big fail? Before we mentally beat ourselves up for that targeted list of all that we need to change for the better about ourselves, let’s ask and answer a few hard-hitting questions first.
Why do we want to change?
Why do we not like ourselves? Why do we feel that we have to be better? Are we striving to be better than what we are because we truly want to? Or because we compare ourselves to others and feel that they are better and we need to be better than them? Or is it because people in our lives are telling us that we need to be better because we are not enough? Have we made that list of resolutions as part of self-introspection and self-recognition or as part of feeling depressed? Questions like these make most of us uncomfortable. But if we truly desire to rise above our current situation, we need to answer them and look at ourselves in the mirror of truth.
Want to lose weight? Do it for health and fitness, not looks.
We so often get onto the fitness bandwagon, only to fall off. Why? Many times, it’s because we decide to be fit for the wrong reasons. We want to look beautiful, sexy—with all the curves and muscles in the right places. But wanting to lose weight to look better for others isn’t all that motivating an idea in the long run. Getting fit because you want to get healthy and to realize your physical goals works. So the next time you skip a meal, say no to that calorie-laden deliciousness and join yoga classes or the gym, make sure the inspiration to do so is you. And remember, you are beautiful—your weight doesn’t make you better looking!
Thinking of a makeover? Make sure it’s for your happiness and no one else’s.
Tired of those five-year-old dresses? Sick of always wearing pants? Want to make the wardrobe move from frump to hip, or get that haircut that makes you look cool? If you are nodding away vigorously in the affirmative, well, go ahead and make merry then. But if it’s a naggy partner, some not-so-nice friends, or even a rather critical elder, do not change yourself for their benefit. You are not likely to be happy if you don a persona that is not yours.
Want a better job or bank balance? Consider if it makes you happy, not stressed.
We all want more in life—and I am not talking about greed, though it does boil down to the sin that is avarice. But we want a bigger house, a stronger bank balance, a flashier car, etc. It’s natural human tendency to want more. But in case you are planning to follow up on that dream of more, think of all that you might lose in the process. What if a job that pays well leaves you with no time for family, friends, or you? Or what if that miserly money-saving habit leaves you a tad like Ebenezer Scrooge? Open your mind and heart—there is more to life than just material goods. Love, peace, and joy matter the most. And yes, try and help someone. Just do a good deed. Pass that favor and spread the joy.
Looking for a relationship? Only if you truly want it, not because everyone is in love.
All your friends are in steady relationships. Everybody is happily holding hands with their special someone in this season of togetherness (it’s not called “cuffing season” for nothing!). And let’s admit it—you are a teensy-bit blue. But is that reason enough to get into an albatross of a relationship? If we truly want to be in a relationship, we must open our hearts and first learn to love family, friends, and—most of all—ourselves. Do you want the intimacy and can you afford to spend the time and effort needed for a relationship? Are you truly ready to be with someone? If not, then it is okay to be alone—that doesn't mean you are lonely.
Want to save a relationship? Make sure it is truly worth it.
Trying to save a long-term relationship that is spiraling down into nothingness is a good thing to do—but only if you and the other person in question truly want it. If he or she is half out the door already and uninterested in any rescue attempts, you will only be setting yourself up for heartbreak. And remember, no relationship is worth your self-respect or safety. If you are being abused in any way and made to feel less than what you are, leave and gently close that door behind you, forever.
Want to be less angry and happier? No arguments here!
Okay—now here’s a resolution after my own heart. Anger is honestly one very nasty emotion. It’s corrosive and eats away at relationships, confidence, love, and anything worth saving. And words hurt badly—despite the apologies, their echo lingers long after everything is settled and forgiven. So if your resolution is to try and be a calmer, happier, more tolerant, patient, and overall joyful person—no advice is needed. Just go for it.
Made a few mistakes? Never too late to be sorry.
So none of your resolutions from last year came through, huh? And last year was dull, drab, and full of gaffes you cannot believe you committed. Okay, so here’s an epiphany. You are getting another brand-new year—and it’s never too late—you can finally use your magic words to apologize for any and all wrongs that you did. Get it? It’s not over till it’s over—life is all about falling down, bandaging the cuts and dusting off the grime. Move on with a smile—a positive attitude hurt no one…
I leave you with the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson: Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, 'It will be happier.'