New Year, New Start

Can I just start by asking, right now, that we all agree henceforth to use the highly efficient “twenty-eleven” – instead of persisting with two thousand blah-be-di-blah? That’s so last year. Can you imagine the twisted tongues if we’d spent the entire 20th century saying things like nineteen hundred and fourscore?

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I wish all of you a very, very happy New Year and hope that twenty-eleven brings you much peace, joy and love.

If you’re in the mood to set a New Year’s resolution or two, you’re not alone. Folks across the continent are at this very moment resolving to lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more, spend less money. (I have plotted for myself the mundane yet surprisingly effectual goal of brushing for the full two minutes.)

Of course, the vast majority of these good intentions will have gone down the drain by about March. I’ve researched and written a few articles on making resolutions and breaking bad habits (here, here and here), so this I know: Change is most likely to be successful when it’s not overwhelming, but actually doable. Instead of vowing to lose forty pounds, say the experts, tell yourself you’re going to lose five or ten. Then decide how that will fit into your lifestyle. And break it down into small, manageable goals. And remember to celebrate the little milestones along the way.

So maybe your New Year’s plan is to do a bit more good out there. Wonderful! But before you set yourself an impossibly lofty expectation, like raising four million dollars for world hunger or personally adopting every poor creature from the humane society, do a reality check. What’s a reasonable goal? To do a good deed a day? A good deed a week? Or is it just to pay a little more attention on the subway, so you’re ready to give up your seat to a senior or help a parent struggling with a stroller? Is it simply to walk the long route to work, so you can pick up litter in the park along the way? These may seem like small resolutions. But they make a difference. They are good.

And what’s more, by giving up your subway seat or walking that extra six minutes, you’re also well on your way to losing those pesky five pounds. Call it karma.

So what’s your New Year’s resolution? Please share!

2 responses to “New Year, New Start

  1. No resolutions for me this year, just a story to share about kindness. Over the holidays I accompanied my sister for her last radiation treatment. She has breast cancer, and it’s been a difficult year for her and our whole family. My other sister came along as well, and we had already been told that our sister was really impressed by this place, the generosity of the staff, the level of professionalism and so on. And the patients! Smiling and chatting with each other and doing their best to carry on. (Rather than being brought down by meeting so many other people with cancer, my sister says she is regularly inspired by the people she meets. And I know from knowing her that she must inspire them too.) The waiting room, to my surprise, was full of baskets of knitting, each one with a little page of instructions that told you the strips of knitting were there for anyone to work on, and would be stitched together into blankets when there were enough. So at each station, while we waited for our sister, we knitted away. And it felt WONDERFUL to be doing something useful, adding to something someone else had started, and knowing some other stranger would come along later and take up where we had left off.

  2. What a wonderful story, Kristen. I’m sorry for your sister’s illness, and hope this new year is a better one for all of you. Your story beautifully illustrates how we can find meaningful human connections in the most unexpected places. And they do make us feel better, don’t they? Brilliant, whoever came up with the solidarity-in-knitting idea!

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