Since New Year’s Day, several of my friends have been passing around a blog post from a popular mommy blog and related Facebook page. It’s a post about New Year’s Resolutions, or lack thereof, and all of my friends were loving it. They shared it with me and with each other with comments like “Finally, someone gets it!” And “This is the one resolution I can keep.”
So it was with some interest that I clicked on link and read the post. The author talked about how her entire family was sick on New Year’s Eve. I found myself nodding along, thinking of how awful Thanksgiving was when my family and I were sick and how guilty I felt when Wyokiddo got her Nana, cousin and uncle puking sick, too, just in time for my dad’s funeral. Typhoid Mary, anyone?
The second part of the post began with a Tweet that I loved.
“I don’t want a new, better life in 2016. I just want new eyes to see that
my life is already staggeringly beautiful.”
I almost stood up and cheered. “Yes!” I thought. “Yes, I needed this. I need to print this out and tape it everywhere in my house and recite it every day as a reminder of how blessed my life is.”
Then I got to her discussion of resolutions. The post in part, read (caps are her emphasis, not mine)…
“And I don’t want to be a BETTER ME in 2016. Screw that. I don’t want to chase after some imaginary more fabulous version of myself. I AM what the people I love need. I already AM. And when we are always BECOMING we have no room to BE. So I’m done striving. I’m fine, thanks. I’m showing up to love my people and you and the world this year JUST AS I AM.”
“Self-improvement is just another hiding place. DON’T TRY TO BE BETTER. JUST NOTICE THAT IT’S ALL GOOD ENOUGH ALREADY.”
I don’t know why, but this really irritated me. And it’s been irritating me ever since. I agree that we need to notice all that we have that is good and beautiful. But the rest, for me, is a cop out. This is the easy way out. This is a way of making the problems in life someone else’s fault. As I re-read it a second time, all I could picture was Cartman, the fat little kid from Southpark shouting “Whatever! I do what I want!”
Now don’t get me wrong. I believe that we as moms and dads and sisters and brothers and sons and daughters put a ton of unnecessary pressure on ourselves. We burden our souls with guilt that erodes our self-confidence. We create unreasonable expectations for ourselves and others and resort to anger when those expectations aren’t met.
I also believe that we’d all be a little better off if we could find peace and happiness with what we have instead of always wanting more or different. More money. More stuff. A bigger house. A nicer car. A spouse that understood us more. A friend who stopped being 30 minutes late every time we agree to meet.
But to call self-improvement a hiding place? To resolve not to grow, not to improve as a person? That seems extreme. And incredibly egocentric.
I mean, why wouldn’t you strive to be a better person? Why wouldn’t you want to improve? Grow? Isn’t that something we ask of our kids? Of our spouses? Our friends and family? The world? Isn’t the best gift we can give each other is to strive to be the best version of ourselves?
I don’t think the New Year should be a time to catalog all our faults and make false promises to ourselves about correcting those behaviors. But I do believe in the power of positive thinking and that each of us can find room to improve, to grow.
The word resolution has it roots in the Latin word resolvere, meaning to loosen or release, to unyoke. So maybe that’s a better way to look at resolutions. What decisions can we make in our lives to release ourselves? To unyoke those around us?
Instead of packing it all in and saying “Oh to hell with it, when it comes to me, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit!” maybe a more helpful attitude would look something like this (entirely my emphasis!)…
In 2016, resolve to RELEASE yourself from unrealistic expectations. Love yourself more and judge others less. Let go of guilt, or make positive changes in your life to fix those things that weigh heavy on your heart.
Resolve to UNYOKE those you love from your own unrealistic expectations. Free them from the obligation of your happiness or sadness.
Resolve to let love and grace and compassion FLOW FREELY to yourself, your family and your friends.
KNOW that your are fabulous and good enough. But be RESOLUTE in an attitude of personal growth and improvement, for it is through our own growth and betterment that our world grows and improves.
Be FIRM in your knowledge that, as Rick Warren wrote, “It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters.”
So unyoke your soul and hurl some love into 2016. For yourself. Your family. This world. You might just be surprised at how much we’re all improved for the effort.