Another new year is upon us. This one seems to hold particular significance coming off the tumultuous year that was 2016. From the veritable circus sideshow leading up to and in the days following our nation’s historic Presidential election to the seemingly endless roll call of notable deaths, 2016 isn’t likely to be remembered as either the gentlest or kindest of years. Civility seemed to wane considerably, fear seemed to take hold of minds and hearts, and both reason and rationalism were unceremoniously tossed out the proverbial window in favor of emotionally-charged rhetoric often devoid of sense or sensibility. Facts became inconvenient and people became firmly rooted in personal convictions informed by fake news sites, heavily-biased media sources reflecting their own political affiliation, and outright conspiracy theories that took on lives of their own across social media platforms.
Some of the consequences of such a game-changing year seem permanent and intractable as we flip the calendar this morning. Minds of all shapes and varieties closed over the course of 2016, and it’ll likely take great mental crowbars to pry them open again.
Amid such a challenging landscape, personal New Year’s resolutions take on a new sense of urgency. After all, when the world seems to be spiraling out of control, we look to gain some semblance of solid footing – to compensate for what we can’t control in the world around us by seeking change within ourselves and our own insular worlds.
With that preamble, the stage is set for my own New Year’s resolutions. But instead of creating an ordered list this year, I’m taking a more holistic approach to formulating my personal pledges and promises. I’m going to approach 2017 with a desire to improve myself mind, body, and soul – with each resolution directly tied to one of those broader spheres of holistic well-being.
I’ve got two resolutions to improve my mind. First – and I’ve already started this post-election – is that I’m going to limit my news sources. As of now, I’m focusing on NPR, the BBC, and (to a lesser extent) the NEW YORK TIMES. I’ll keep my mind open to exploring other news sources with reputations for fair and unbiased reporting, but I’m going to try and consider news sources whose percentages of unbiased versus biased are higher. This will be a tough one because headlines are seductive, especially when one speaks to a personal perspective. I categorically reject this trend of fake news and recognize that it’s intellectually lazy and dishonest to cite and circulate such.
Second, I’m resolved to decrease my television viewing this year and give that time over to more reading. To this end, I’ve made a list of all the shows I currently watch and re-assessed which ones I look forward to and watch for enjoyment versus those I watch out of habit. Gone are: EMPIRE, ARROW, THE FLASH, LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, SUPERGIRL, QUANTICO, and DIVORCE. That gives me back six and a half hours of time per week that will be spent with my head buried in books and other endeavors outlined below instead of lazily watching the boob tube.
This is an easy one – and likely one shared by many. When I hit the age of 40, I resolved to take better care of my body. By my mid-forties, I weighed less than I did in high school and was in the best shape of my life, a faithful gym rat and dedicated weight watcher. Then old habits insidiously crept back in. Apathy and laziness took over and most of those hard-won bodily gains fell by the wayside. I’m not going to spend much time analyzing and Monday morning quarterbacking on the why’s of this backslide – the mind can be either a powerful ally or foe, and if I could figure out the trick to engaging one while rejecting the other permanently, I’d be a millionaire. Instead, I’m going to forgive myself the failing and look forward to the challenge of achieving physical fitness all over again. Building on past successes in this area and what works for me, I’m not going to overshoot the goals here: I resolve to lose 50 pounds by the end of 2017 and to move more. Simple, to the point.
III. Soul (Spirit)
There are a trio resolutions making up my 2017 focus on my spiritual well-being.
The first is to make a concentrated effort to return to my writing. I’ve always struggled with the balance between passion and practicality in my life. I’m blessed-cursed to have a chosen vocation in the healthcare industry that I’m passionate about – one that brings me immense personal satisfaction that meets many of those higher self-actualization hierarchal needs that Maslow famously theorized about while providing the practicality of a generous financial compensation. I term this both a blessing and a curse because I’m also passionate about writing and the creativity that comes with world-building through the written word, which also brings me tremendous personal satisfaction. If my day job in healthcare only provided the financial security and not the personal satisfaction, it might be easier to pursue my writing with more zeal. So, for me, it boils down to consciously making the time to do both. With some of the time gained as part of my “mind” efforts above, I resolve to sit my (hopefully shrinking) ass down in front of the computer and start flexing those creative muscles again.
My second “soul” resolution is to concentrate more on my good fortune in life and myriad blessings. To that end, fulfilling this one is relatively easy and boils down to establishing a daily habit. Each day, I’m going to post something I’m grateful for to my Facebook wall. Easy-peasy. Some days the gratitude may be more profound than others, but the point of this exercise is to increase my level of self-awareness and recognize that blessings need not be momentous to be appreciated.
Lastly, I’m going to try to permanently capture more of what I experience in this grand life of mine. Photography has long been an interest so I’m pledging to take more pictures…to see life through a slightly different lens. It’s another creative outlet in which I’ve dabbled in the past and I’d like to expand both my knowledge and experience. Maybe a class is in my future, or more likely just bringing my camera along for more rides. Either way, I’m going to try to look at life in pictures…and see life reflected back in those pictures.
Wishing all my friends and readers every happiness, success, and personal satisfaction imaginable in the coming year. Regardless of what resolutions you make this January 1st, remember – above all else – to be kinder to yourself in 2017.