My first new years resolution, that I can recall, was when I was about 7. I decided my resolution was to eat more onions.
I hate onions.
I thought resolutions were promises you made to yourself to do things you don’t like or don’t want to do. I made those kinds of resolutions for years: exercise everyday, meditate everyday, cook more, eat out more, eat less, eat differently. Just like most, the resolutions stick for 4 months or so and then I fall off the wagon because I didn’t want to make the change in the first place.
So this year I decided not to make a resolution. I decided to go easy and stop expecting things from myself that I am not truly motivated to do/change and, instead, just do the things that make me feel good. Sometimes that may be yoga, sometimes that may be wine, sometimes that may be an extra cup of coffee even though it makes me jittery.
While sitting outside with my roommate and best friend one morning, I listened as she talked to every little sound she heard and every little bird she watched fly across the open sky above us. “Good morning, trees!” or “Listen to that little bird. Is that a mockingbird or a grouse?” I realized that acknowledging the beauty around her is a daily routine, noticing the little things she likes in her environment. So I decided to try it for a day. I realized I was thinkingthese things all the time. But I wondered what would happen if I verbalized the things that I noticed. Would it make the noticing more intentional?
I thanked the refrigerator for keeping my half and half cold.
I thanked my space heater for keeping my feet warm.
I thanked the sun for shining on the new growth of our hibiscus plants.
I thanked the garbage men for picking up the remnants of Christmas and New Years.
As I did get a little more intentional about noticing, I realized my form of noticing was always in the form of gratitude. And I began to accept that gratitude doesn’t have to be something you write down in a journal everyday for it to become a practice. It’s something I can do in little bits all day long, and it somehow makes my world a brighter place.
I decided to buy a big white board from Lowes and hang it in our entry way with a note asking, “What are you grateful for today?” As roommates, friends, and family enter and exit, anyone can make a note of the things that bring them joy, or simply the things they notice. Something as insignificant as a spring rod for the closet, or as big as sky, all of it belongs on the gratitude board. There’s no rule about how many things you must write, how often, or what the things must be. Rules, regulations, restrictions are what have always blown my New Years Resolutions in past. But this year, the rule is to be gentle with myself and practice gratitude in any way that works for me that day, whether it be in my head, saying it out loud, or writing it on the gratitude board. Without the strict confines of my typical, “Write in your journal for ten minutes a day” resolutions, I’m starting a new life practice instead of embarking on a journey I’ll eventually abandon.
So, quite my accident, my New Years Resolution is gratitude. And boy, am I grateful for it. 🙂