The kind of person I want to be is a person who is my own best friend. The person who respects my thoughts and soothes my fears.
The person who says to me, sit down, put your feet up, you’ve done enough for right now, take time to recharge your batteries. The person who forgives me my errors and recognizes my humanness. You made a mistake? It’s okay.
Rather than making resolutions to be better for others, we should resolve only to be better for ourselves. In my last post I said that whether we make New Year’s resolutions or not, whether we keep them or not, does not matter. What matters is whether we are where we want to be in our lives. I’m not talking about career success or marital status or living at the right address. I’m talking about whether we’re the kind of person we like to be around.
Too often we make resolutions to give up things – food, cigarettes, freedom – resolutions are something we do to deny ourselves pleasures. What happens if resolutions are something we give to ourselves? The promises we make to ourselves should be about gaining, not losing. Rather than denying ourselves pleasure, we should be denying ourselves pain.
I know some people who shy away from making resolutions because they’re afraid they’ll fail and they’ll be angry with themselves when they do. I don’t look it that way. I look at it as it doesn’t matter how well I do tomorrow, it only matters how well I do today. If today I manage to keep a promise to myself, that’s terrific. If today I break that promise, well, tomorrow is another day and another chance to keep my promise. Every day, or every time, I keep the promise to myself is a time I have acted differently than is my habit. I have moved myself from where I was towards where I want to be. Some days are great. Some days are better than others. Some days are really bad. It does not matter. Every new day is a new opportunity. Every yesterday cannot be changed and so should not be dwelled upon.
Changing our behaviors requires learning new ways of acting. When we learn other things – how to play the flute, a language, how to drive a car – we make a lot of mistakes. We have no expectation to know everything, much less to be highly skilled, when we begin. We’re excited to start and know we have much to learn. We look forward to the day when we can play a piece, travel to a foreign country, drive with confidence. We don’t tell ourselves, I won’t try to learn because I cannot be perfect and accomplished on day one.
Learning is always a journey. So every time we make an effort to do differently, to do something that takes us closer to who we want to be, we have succeeded. The most important commitment we can make is to ourselves, to be the best we can manage to be, as often as we can manage it, and to forgive ourselves for all of the rest. Make only one resolution this year, resolve to do one specific thing, as often as you can, as well as you can, that makes you a better friend to yourself.
Life Is Honest, Open and True: I am being a better friend to myself this year by acting honestly, listening openly, and speaking truthfully. What about you? We each have a choice to make. How will you proceed from here?