New Year Happy?

"Happy" by Public Image LtdSo, we’re a week in — how’s the new year going? I do this thing every year where I think everything’s going to change on January 1 and my life will get a whole lot better just because I had some champagne the night before. Which is ridiculous.

I woke up late January 1 and did a lot of housework. I still get irritated by things I said I would stop getting irritated by. I’m not really eating any better. I think I’m eating more. I quit my gym. I’m still grieving hard on stuff from 2011 that I swore I’d magically get over at midnight December 31. I’m still trying to find peace of mind.

Some goals have stuck: I’m trying to waste less time. I’m trying to eliminate things from my life that cause me distress. I took the Grindr off my phone. I’m sleeping 8 hours most nights. I’m not getting mad at the cats. I’m meditating most days. I’m doing yoga. I’m riding my bike. I’m writing this.

I’m kind of a sucker for resolutions, though I should probably call them something less lofty since I have so little resolve around them. But I do like taking some time at year-end to evaluate what I can change to make my life better. I don’t care for resolutions that center around giving something up (unless maybe you’re a heroin addict or something); instead, I like to focus on what to add to make myself happier. It’s Happy New Year, right? But what do we mean when we say that?

I've Got So Much to Give by Barry WhiteI make goals like getting more massages, going to the movies more often, reading more books. One year, I made 40 New Year’s resolutions; only 2 were about quitting — my job and biting my nails. At the end of each month, I would rank them in order of how much progress I’d made and count them down like Casey Kasem in a really long email to some extremely patient (and, I’m sure, bored) friends. I had more time back then.

This year, for the first time, I have both a New Year’s mantra and a theme song. My theme song is “I’ve Got So Much to Give” by Barry White. I am ready. I been ready. My mantra, inspired by a dear friend, is love and peace of mind.

Part of that is not letting little things bug me, things that involve other people and don’t even have anything to do with me, like the drivers who park in the bike lane or go through red lights, or the crowds of smokers I need to fight my way through every time I go in or out of my office building. (I know I sound like they still bug me, right? I’m trying.)

Another part of it is creating down time. I seem to be always on the go, with not enough time to just stop and do nothing. That’s going to change…soon! I’m going to Mexico tomorrow. Part of it is looking for the good in people, all people, and not prejudging them. I’m actually pretty good at that already, but I want to become an expert.

But my biggest goal is to go Playd de los Muertos, Puerto Vallartaeasier on myself. I need to be more patient and forgiving to the person I drive the hardest: me. (If I had people working under me, I might drive them harder, but I don’t.) Sometimes — a lot of the time — I am really tough on myself, worrying if I am making the right decisions, that I’m doing enough, and that I’m treating everyone (other than myself) ok. When I screw up — and I do, we all do — I tend to agonize over it. If I put as much effort into loving myself as I do those around me, I’d probably be a lot happier. I know I would be.

As an added bonus, if I fail at the resolution, I won’t beat myself up over it, partly redeeming myself.


7 thoughts on “New Year Happy?

  1. thank you for sharing so much with us, Dave. last year i read the book ‘the happiness project’ which i don’t necessarily recommend. but one thing i took from it was to set shorter deadlines on goals, even 1 per month, and keeping a diary of your successes and failures of keeping that goal for the month. eventually they become habits – so i’m told. still working on that myself. baby steps! xo

    • Yes, I’ve heard that too. Goals should be, above all, achievable — otherwise they will make you crazy — and one of the best ways to do that is to make them time-limited. You can always renew if it’s going well and you like it!

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