I’ve been thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, and how so often they’re framed in negative terms, traits or behaviors that aren’t our finest that we want to reduce or eliminate. But doing so puts the focus on the negative, and what we pay attention to is what grows. So what if instead we focused on what we want to gain? What is it that we want to see more of in our lives?
This is a challenging approach for me, because I’ve defined so much of my life around loss: losing friends, my mom’s death, the loss of other family through death or estrangement, even losing weight. Those experiences have definitely shaped me, but they are not all that defines me.
So my goal as we go into the new year is to remember more often all the things I’ve had, and everything I’ve gained in my life.
For instance, it is still hard sometimes to think about losing my mom, but the flip side of that is recognizing how lucky I was to have a caring, warm, dedicated mother throughout my childhood and young adulthood. It wasn’t perfect, but I never doubted her love for me, or that she wanted the best for me, or that she would support me. And I realize I’m so lucky to have had that, because it’s not a given.
Similarly, rather than focus on my weight loss, I’d like to celebrate all that I’ve gained in my journey with food and weight: a much more open and deeper relationship with my dad, the ability to climb mountains, a healthy relationship with food, the knowledge that I am not alone in my experiences, and the desire to help others.
I’ve also mourned the loss of certain family traditions and ways of being with my family, as people have come and gone and life changes, but it’s also allowed me to be open to creating new traditions and expanding my definition of family, which is something to be grateful for.
And when I think about managing stress in my life, I’ve often focused on what I need to do to reduce the stress. But instead, it might be better if I start anew by focusing on what I want to gain: better sleep, increased calm and relaxation, improved health, and more moments of fun, joy and pleasure. I don’t expect that to be my whole life, but my hope is by focusing on those areas, I’ll grow into better balance.
I invite you, too, to consider what you want to gain in the coming year, and I hope it grows for you, into something that will enrich your life.