Did you make a new year resolution this year? I didn’t. I’ve never been big on making resolutions. I’ve had the same resolution for as long as I can remember: eat slower. And it’s been the same resolution for as long as I can remember because I still eat too damn fast. Like every meal will not only be my last, but that it will imminently be my last.
So this year, I didn’t even resolve to eat slower. But even though I didn’t (consciously) set out to make resolutions, I did make a bunch of changes that essentially commenced on or very near to January 1.
As I talked about in a previous post, toward the latter part of 2014 I had one of my worst pain flare-ups in years, which led to a great deal of introspection, reflection, and thinking about the future. I had to really sit down with myself and figure out what I needed to do to get out of the worst of the pain as well as what I could do to prevent such a flare up from happening again.
I had to make some hard decisions (which I talk about more here).
So, though I didn’t make resolutions, there was a natural progression from my soul-searching to making some changes that just so happened to take place this time of year. Some are new behaviors, some are old behaviors revisited, some are evolved behaviors.
Some are previously attempted behaviors that didn’t quite stick.
It all got me to thinking about how we make change and how we make those changes stick. Change is hard. We resist it, fight it, put it off (I’ll start tomorrow….I’ll start Monday….I’ll just get through this event or that event and start….), or never even attempt it.
Because it’s hard. And because we might fail.
I think the fear of failure can be way worse than the fear of the change itself. We fear we’re inevitably going to fail, and no one likes to fail.
But it’s ok that it’s hard. And it’s ok if we’re unsuccessful. There is no success without failure. There is no success without trying. And trying again. And trying again.
Failure is what helps us grow, helps us find ourselves (and our friends, while we’re at it), helps guide our path, helps us think critically and creatively.
Failure means that we are challenging ourselves to be better, and challenge is good. Even if a particular attempt isn’t successful, we are that much better for having attempted it, for putting ourselves out there to try and make a change.
We’ve grown that much more, we’ve learned that much more, we’ve done that much more.
It’s the doing that matters, the effort, the persistence. If we keep doing, if we keep making the effort, eventually we will make the change.
We will succeed.
If a change is worth pursuing, a change that will enrich our lives and help make us happier, it’s also worth not giving up on. It’s worth giving it a go every now and then, even if we’ve failed before, to see if it’ll stick this time.
I mentioned on the MyCuppaJo Facebook page that I started meditating each morning this year. It wasn’t a formal resolution, it just sort of happened. Meditation is something that I have attempted for years. Many attempts, many failures.
But it’s always been sort of sitting there in the back of my mind. It would come to the forefront every now and then, say, after reading about the benefits of mindfulness or meditation or seeing a story in the news (I particularly liked the 60 minutes story and how meditation changed Anderson Cooper’s life – that was probably the impetus behind this – finally successful – attempt) or seeing a meditation challenge on Facebook or discussing it in one of my sports psych classes.
So the idea was there, I just didn’t act on it. But I didn’t push it out, either, I let it sort of percolate in the back of my mind.
Eventually, it’ll stick
I came across the Smiling Mind app on someone else’s Facebook page and downloaded it to my phone a few weeks ago. On January 1, I decided to give it ago.
Now, I had done apps before. I had attempted Deepak and Oprah’s meditation challenge before. I had tried meditation on my own before. It never felt ‘right’, it never felt like me. It felt forced, like it was an obligation (I should meditate so I have to do this). I’d do it a day, maybe two, and then give up on it.
But the Smiling Mind app is a good fit for me. I find it to be just the right amount of instruction and guidance with none of the woo that has turned me off from other programs in the past. I’m still in Meditation 101, the program is less than 9 minutes and is only 5 minutes of active meditation.
I do it each morning after I get the coffee going – it’s kismet, when I’m done meditating, the coffee is done, too.
So all of a sudden, after percolating for years in the back of my mind, meditation just fits into my daily routine, I look forward to it each morning. It feels good for a number of reasons:
- I’ve finally seen some success with something I have made numerous attempts at over the years
- I am finding it to be very relaxing and calming, it’s a very peaceful way to start the morning
- Even though it’s peaceful and calming, I feel more energized when I’m done
- Rather than starting my morning jumping immediately on the time-suck of social media, I am starting the morning by clearing my mind of clutter and junk and I’ve found that it helps me to be more focused and more productive
- I just like it
And it’s just 5-10 minutes each morning, yet I feel its benefits all day. Feeling calm, less stressed, and that my mind is clear (and smiling, of course), is a great way to wake up and get going.
Don’t give up
My point is, whether it’s meditation or something else that you’ve wanted to start doing that you’ve tried in the past (perhaps a few, or even many, times) that didn’t stick, don’t give up on it if it’s something you really want to do.
It could be your next attempt that all of a sudden, it fits.
I also think that’s important for us all to realize that we don’t have to wait until January 1st each year to make big changes (or small ones), or wait until Monday, or until after some upcoming event.
We don’t need resolutions.
We can make a change any day, any moment.
We don’t have to give up on changes we haven’t been successful at in the past, failing at them is a part of the process. If we let those changes keep percolating in the back of our minds, one day we just may be ready to bring them forward and live them out.
And these changes don’t have to be things like ‘eat healthier’ or ‘exercise more’, they can be to write more, read more, paint more (or learn to paint), take more pictures, learn to knit, take up an instrument, learn a new language, travel more, see your best friend more, go to more museums, take a dance class (or just dance more!), go to sleep earlier, schedule a massage once a month, learn to cook (buy a cookbook and just start!), start a blog, take a Coursera course.
All of these things, and many thousands of others, are worthwhile and beneficial and can improve our health and happiness.
And if it doesn’t stick now, try again later (or try something else).
Someday, folks, I will be a slower eater.
Maybe even today.
As always folks, thanks for reading my post! Stay tuned for more posts on the changes I’ve made thus far in 2015. If you like what you read, please share with a friend via the little envelope thingy below!
Mindfulness links for those interested:
If you’d like to learn more about the brain changes that occur during meditation, check out this Scientific American post.
For a bunch of links on mindfulness, check out this page.
Or this quick one by Dr. David Katz on how meditation can affect our genes, where he references a 2013 study by the University of Wisconsin where specific molecular changes were found after meditation.