As the calendar turns its page to a new year, we are encouraged to embark on a journey of self improvement. Like the saying goes, “New Year, New You.” At the same time, we are admonished to be true to ourselves, to be the real you (whatever that means). How can you do both? Health, fitness, self-discipline, and well-being dominate our resolutions. But what about that “be true to you” bit? Let’s face it, more often than not your resolution goals have no basis in the reality of who you are. It’s like you made up a whole new person who is suddenly motivated by going to the gym, is brimming with self-discipline, and exudes confidence in every situation. Let’s face it, it’s important to strive for self improvement, but you’ve got to do it while staying true to yourselves. So, how do I lose these 15 extra pounds when my true self is an undisciplined glutton? In this blog, I’ll explore the intersection of healthy resolutions and the power of embracing authenticity.
In our pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, we often forget to take stock of who we are. We might not even know if we haven’t given it much thought. Heck, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up… If we don’t know who we are, we may set a goal of visiting the gym 5 days a week and eating clean. But if we have never set foot in a gym nor read a single dietary article, this goal is doomed to failure. What makes us think we are going to change into a whole new person on January 1st? I would say that we need to instead look at who we are now, write down the good things we are doing for ourself, and instead of making up crazy resolutions, resolve to do more of whatever good it is we are already doing. If we go for a walk with friends once a week, try increasing that to twice a week. Instead of a drastic overhaul, we need to create sustainable changes. Baby steps and being kind to ourselves. And don’t forget to celebrate them along the way.
Rigid resolutions also often involve efforts to un-stress our lives. A daily meditation practice would be a great idea, but if you can’t get your brain to shut up for a nanosecond, a 10-minute meditation will be torture. Again, instead of creating a new you, look at the old you and decide what you really “lose yourself” doing. Puzzles? Maybe gardening? An energetic pickle ball game? A leisurely walk with a pet? Do those things more often and without the self-criticizing voice telling you you’re wasting time or should be doing something more productive. It is productive to play, to give your mind an outlet. Your body will thank you. We need to play and we need to rest. Especially this time of year, mid winter, when people tend to get sluggish, a little depressed, and go into hibernation. (In fact, see my blog Do Humans Hibernate for more information on winter/seasonal cycles’ effect on behavior.) Here’s another revolutionary idea: make resting more a resolution.
One of the most beneficial things you can do to find happiness, which after all is the end game to all this resolution nonsense, is to improve your connections with others. According to one of the longest scientific studies on the topic of happiness conducted by Harvard University according to The Atlantic) meaningful connections with other people increases joy, contentment, and happiness. Therefore, make a resolution that you’ll strive to build authentic connections. Attend events and activities that genuinely interest you. What are your passions? Pursue them like it is your job to do so, let your authentic self shine through, and you’ll meet like-minded people. You’ll share conversations that lift you up and maybe form friendships that will last a lifetime. Even those of you who scoff and claim you’re not a people-person, having one or two true close friends creates more happiness than acquisition of things or achievements. The scientists say so! Make it a goal to spend more time with people you like, doing things you like.
Conclusion: As we step into the new year, let’s embrace the duality of self-improvement and self-acceptance. By weaving together reasonable resolutions for a healthier lifestyle with a commitment to authenticity, we create a road map for personal growth that reflects the true essence of who we are. Remember, the most powerful resolutions are those that align with our authentic selves—nurturing both our well-being and our individuality. NOT trying to make us into someone we’re not. So honor your geeky, lazy, voracious, nerdy, undisciplined, or anti-social self while you make your New Year’s resolution (revolution!) plans.