Here we are at the dawn of a new year. I know many of us take this time to assess our lives and even our shortcomings, then we make these grand resolutions to make substantial changes to how and what we do. We vow to improve our health, our finances, our mental health. In a Forbes Health article the following most common new year’s resolutions included:
Improved fitness, 48%
Improved finances, 38%
Improved mental health, 36%
Lose weight, 34%
Improved diet, 32%.
One survey found the average resolution lasted 3.74 months. Only 8% of respondents keep to their resolution for one month, 22% last for two months, and 13% last four months. That’s not a very good track record, is it? It begs the question, why do we make any resolutions at all if we are so abysmal at sticking to them? I happen to think we all have great intentions in the beginning. We take stock of how we feel, what we look like, what shape we’re in (physically, mentally, financially). We come to the conclusion there is room for improvement in our lives, frankly we can do better. This is how I believe we arrive at setting lofty goals for ourselves in the new year.
Of course, life gets in the way and we find it easier to revert to our previous habits and ways of conducting ourselves. There’s a reason why we find ourselves in the places we do. We eat unhealthy things because its an easy ‘go to” when we’re feeling stressed. We don’t exercise like we should because we can’t somehow muster up the energy amidst all the other things we’ve set as priorities. We don’t keep to our budgets because we satisfy the temporary desires over the distant long-term goals we originally planned for.
Its not that we don’t know what is good for us, its that we simply engage in short-sighted behaviors because they are easy. In reality, we know exercise ultimately makes us feel better than being a couch potato. We know and calculate the financial gains we can make with disciplined saving and budgeting, but those goals seem too far away. We get instant comfort from some unhealthy diet choices, and those outshine the effects we know come from better choices.
I want to propose a different kind of new year’s resolution that may have far reaching implications on much of our life, and the lives of others. Might we resolve ourselves to practice kindness in how we approach this new year? By kindness, I’m referring to how we treat others, how we treat ourselves, and how we treat the world around us.
When we are confronted with a situation involving another, what would it be like if we weighed our options and resolved to do or say the kindest thing possible? Set aside whatever snarky comments come to mind, whatever sarcastic remarks we can conjure up, whatever anger we might feel. Do the kind thing. Say the kind thing. Let kindness be our guide in our interactions with others. When it comes to ourselves, maybe do the kindest thing we can think of. If it is about exercise, determine what is the kindest thing we can do for our physical bodies? We know exercise ultimately makes us feel better, lets treat ourselves kindly by giving even a short bit of exercise every day. We know eating a balanced diet is what makes our bodies function in the way they were intended, so the kindest thing we can do is go the extra mile and feed ourselves a proper diet.
I happen to believe if we can put aside our differences and be kind in spite of what we feel politically, or socially, or religiously we will find big changes in store. It really doesn’t take a herculean effort to be kind. It really boils down to something Jesus said to his disciples, “Love one another, as I have loved you.”
To paraphrase John Wesley, this is the year I want to endeavor to be kind in all the ways I can, by whatever means I can, to all the people I can, in every situation I can, and for as long as ever I can. Kindness shouldn’t be a one time event, it should be a lifestyle we adopt and keep. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to make just one resolution, to be kind.
Your companion on the Way,