Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year's Resolution to Keep


(Jefferson Building, Library of Congress)

I always have had trouble with New Year's resolutions. They always seem to involve doing something painful -- either giving up something pleasurable, like food (or some subset thereof) or wine, or committing to do something that one hates, like jog even though one has rickety knees. Most traditional resolutions also seem to involve setting up some kind of rule that one intends to follow rigidly. Although I think that rules have their place -- I am a lawyer, after all (and a Capricorn!) -- I also think that the resolution-type rules usually involve trying to impose rigidity where flexibility would be better suited.

Resolutions like those described above are not -- at least not for me -- easily sustainable over the long term. In fact, they seem downright destined for failure from the get-go. I think that I have known this for a pretty long while now, at least subconsciously, which probably is why I gave up the typical New Year's resolution charade many years ago. Most New Years Days in recent memory, I have found myself resolving not to make any resolutions. But that seems defeatist in a different kind of way, doesn't it? Surely, there must be a better way.

I've been thinking for a while now about what that better way might be. Since Christmas, that topic has constantly consumed my thoughts. Here is what I decided: this year, my resolution is to cultivate the principle of mindfulness when it comes to my thoughts and behaviors. I am going to identify ingrained thought patterns (including but not limited to things like "this is just how I am" and "I can't do that") and examine them for their truth or lack thereof. When I sit down to eat and drink and when I go out to exercise, I am not going to give myself hard-and-fast rules or weight loss goals of any sort; instead, I am going to ask my body what it really needs and wants at the moment. When I am about to speak or act in a way that directly affects another sentient being, I am first going to ask myself whether my intended words or actions comport with how, when I am at my kindest and most patient, I think that other beings ideally should be treated. My intention is to take the information that is gleaned from paying attention in this manner and use it to make more positive, compassionate choices concerning my thoughts and behaviors.

To me, putting this kind of truth-seeking and positive mindset into more regular use makes a lot more sense than "resolving" to lose 15 pounds by giving up wine and carbs and jogging with bad knees. But that's just me. . . .

8 comments:

Sam said...

I found your blog by chance - so glad I did! I love your New Year's resolution to cultivate mindfulness - cheers to that! Love your photo of the Jefferson building too. Happy New Year from Sydney, Australia!

Barbara said...

Brava to you! An attitude of mindfulness is the best approach to most situations in life. I hope this is a resolve that is not difficult to keep!

Citizenpat said...

I love your strategy, I hope it works for you. I have made many of these resolutions myself and have learned the ones that stick are the ones that start out small with a big finish. Last year I wieghed 265 pounds, and stood about 5 foot 10 inches. My wife 180, 5 foot 7 inches. We were the cute fat couple, we hated it and tried every diet under the sun. We finally went to a doctor and tried a different approach. Instead of being on a diet, we were just changing habits. Initially, to kick start our metabolism, we stuck to a 1500 calorie diet. we drank 8 glasses of water a day, we exercised 30 minutes a day ( I walked on treed mill, then ran later, she rigorously cleaned, and our portions were no bigger then our fist. I ate 3 apples a day, the body works harder to digest them, and the most important part of all, I weighed myself every morning and every night. Five things, when I got to 259 my goal was 249, and I told myself i would never see 260 again. When i got to 249 my goal became 239 and told myself I would never see 250 again. I lost 30 pounds in a month, I lost 55 pounds in three, and 1 year later, I'm at a healthy 178. My wife lost 25 pounds the first month, 45 by three months and is, well she won't tell me, but she looks great.
The point of this, we set small goals, took daily small steps, and made everyhthing easy, and i don't even watch what I eat now, I just don't eat as much, and i drink water and exercise. If you want a cheerleader let me know, or hit me up. I'm brand new to the blog and have started a page to highlight what my social volunteer site is doing, but I could use some followers.
Have a good one and happy New Year!

willow said...

Oh, yes! I like this outlook.

Ulysses said...

Good Luck with the mindfulness. It is necessary to always choose consciousness. Still, so many distractions...

Reya Mellicker said...

Mindfulness is a strenuous business. I hope your plan includes massive doses of self forgiveness for those moments when you forget to be mindful, yes?

If there's anyone who can take this on, it's you. I salute you!

Angela said...

Dear Adrianne, do you know what? I got shivers when I read your thoughts! Yes yes yes is what I wanted to say all the time! And the rewarding and funny thing is, once you made this attitude a habit, it will never leave you again. And you won`t even have to push yourself to be mindful, it comes naturally - and it will give you so many joyful and incredible moments back, you will wonder why you had not SEEN all this bubbly life before! Let me know your coming adventures!

Rick said...

Hello Adrianne, Forgive my boldness but I am doing a bit of blog surfing to invite people over to my blog to sign up for my giveaway I have going on. This isn't some kind of gimmick. It's just my way of celebrating two years of blogging. I am giving away a free caricature drawn by me. I'd be honored if you took the time to check it out.