Well it’s that time of year again. Holidays are over and the most common New Year’s resolution is in the form of health. Either people want to lose weight, get fit, exercise more, eat better, quick smoking, quit drinking, etc.
Every year the resolutions are basically the same and almost every year by the second month more than 50% of people have broken them. That means January and February are the biggest months for change. You can see this by the massive gym membership ads, Groupons, and deals on the internet, TV and radio, starting in January.
I am not one for New Year’s resolutions. I think I have made two my whole life. For one reason, I think a resolution can be made any time of the year, not just the first of January. You want to get healthy or be in shape? You can do that in May or even November, right before the holidays. You do it when you feel like you are ready.
We spend a lot of time trying to self improve. We want to change something about ourselves we don’t like or maybe we are trying to be like someone else.
We see something out there and say, if I look like that, if I have that…I will be happy. I will have “arrived.”
I admit, I am fortunate to have a tall and thin figure that doesn’t struggle a whole lot with weight. I do practice Pilates and try to move everyday. I eat “mostly” healthy but I have been known to indulge here and there. My vices are cheese and wine. I am not this way because I live by a crazy diet (although I have tried many - some out of pure curiosity), workout regime, or lifestyle. I am this way because I try to choose a balance of self-improvement and self-love. And I have learned it is not an easy thing to do. I struggle along with everyone else in this manner.
The improvement part can be physical or psychological, but I find the two aren’t very far from each other. We all want to look good in clothes or a bathing suit. We all take an extra look in the mirror checking on the amount of wrinkles we have gained in the past years. There is nothing wrong with looking good or caring about looking good. Part of taking care of yourself IS self-love. This is our only vessel on earth. It is also our first impression to others. Many animals take time to clean and care for themselves. Male birds, like the peacock fan out their colorful feathers in an act of vanity to attract a mate. We are not the only species on this planet that care about looking good.
But just as the saying goes, “Beauty is only skin deep.” It may be our first impression but, it cannot get us what we want if we are not happy on the inside. And I say “happy” because it’s a word that everybody knows but it is also a state of mind you are in at any given time. It is NOT a destination. If we try too hard to look or act a certain way because we deem it better or superior, thinking this will make us happy, we are not truly looking inward.
So maybe using the phrase “self-love” might be better. Basically, do you like yourself? Do you like who you are? Can you spend hours on end with your own company? But if you spend all of your time trying to improve the outside you won’t get anywhere on the inside. Now don’t think you have to rush out and buy the latest and greatest self-help book.
Self-help books are big sellers these days because everyone out there is looking for that answer. I have read quite a few. In fact, I read so many at one point my head was spinning. After several books, I just sat there thinking….”GOD, I have so many problems!” There is a back lash to self improvement….I like to call it “Self confusion!” I had so many problems I didn’t know where to start. How did I not know how utterly messed up I was?
Some voice inside of me said, “STOP!”
I just had to stop trying to improve - my body, my mind, my environment. It was exhausting and I didn’t get anywhere. Well, maybe I did, because here I am writing this blog. I found that I just had to follow what made sense to me. I realized that at any given moment, I needed to check in with myself and say, “I’m good.”
So instead of the insurmountable problems I think I may have had, I chose something that I could work on. I choose to balance self-love with self-improvement. The difference is that I choose to be OK with my current state even if it isn’t what I want or what I am reaching towards. Reaching towards something implies movement and that is the key. We can physically move and we can also mentally move…they both have the capability to produce change.
Going back to those New Year’s resolutions, maybe the reason why so many people fail to keep them is because they only hit the surface. If we look inside as well as outside, I think we have a better chance at sticking to our goals and in doing that, we make changes that are more long standing.
That looks different for everyone. Some people want to improve how they look, some how they feel. Maybe you have a goal to run a marathon, or maybe you have a goal to get more organized and spend time with your kids. These are all different ways we want to improve our lives. Don’t be afraid to check in with yourself, it’s so important to choose something that is true to you and not someone else or just the latest trend.
And when the time comes, don’t feel bad about fanning those feathers and being proud, resolution or not.