I have mixed feelings about New Year’s Resolutions. I feel like people make resolutions just to feel good for a while, and don’t really think about it. Most years I don’t give a thought to my resolutions until New Year’s Eve rolls around again.
But there have been exceptions.
Many years ago, I made a resolution to “SORT THE F&%$ OUT OF MY LIFE”. I was struggling in a relationship in which the same problems kept coming back, and no amount of arguments seemed to change or improve things. I was painfully aware of the fact that my best friend who lived on the other side of the country gave me more emotional support and interesting conversation than my significant other, and I felt that this was not how the world should be.
But I wasn’t sure how to change things. And as the year passed and I became increasingly worried about the fact that my life was NOT getting sorted out, I found the resolve to put down a foot, and say, “if X happens again, I am done with the relationship”.
It happened again. I ended the relationship.
I can’t say that it made me happier. Ending a long term relationship with someone you genuinely care about does not make life happier. It was painful and chaotic and I felt like my entire life had been turned upside down.
But I knew that nothing could get better until I did that. It was a necessary, if unpleasant, step.
Within six months I had started officially dating my best friend, and life was much better. It was unspoken from day one that we would get married. Sometimes you just know these things.
Things got sorted out, and I ended up happier in the long run.
So when I read this article about how the pursuit of happiness is a false God, it spoke to me. Specifically, it said this:
It’s the perpetual pursuit of fulfilling our ideal selves which grants us happiness, regardless of superficial pleasures or pain, regardless of positive or negative emotions. This is why some people are happy in war and others are sad at weddings. It’s why some are excited to work and others hate parties. The traits they’re inhabiting don’t align with their ideal selves.
The end results don’t define our ideal selves. It’s not finishing the marathon that makes us happy, it’s achieving a difficult long-term goal that does. It’s not having an awesome kid to show off that makes us happy, but knowing that you gave yourself up to the growth of another human being that is special. It’s not the prestige and money from the new business that makes you happy, it’s the process of overcoming all odds with people you care about.
He talks a lot about how people mistake pleasure for happiness, and how worrying about their own happiness can make them afraid to take important life steps which will, for a while, make them less happy.
And when I look back on it, the resolutions I have kept in the past were the ones that really mattered to me. The ones that were life changing.
And so, this year, I resolve to try to pursue my ideal self. I will try to make changes that align myself with the person I feel that I am inside, the person that I want to be.
Since that person is thinner, but dieting has never worked long-term for me, I am going to try to increase my exercise and make a conscious effort to eat along the lines of the diabetic diet I was on during pregnancy. I think that even if I don’t lose a lot of weight, I will feel better about myself if I am more active and make good eating choices more often. I will feel closer to my ideal self.
I think that losing weight would make me happier, but I am not going to make that a goal. I am just going to become the kind of person who COULD.
I am breaking out the old fit bit, and I am going to download Zombies Run onto my phone. I will listen to it while walking the dog, and we’ll see if that helps keep me moving.
Since that ideal self is also a dog trainer and a writer, I am going to focus on finishing and then publishing (through createspace if necessary) my dog training book, even if that means that I have to put my fiction book aside for now. Having that dog training book will help get me business, and help free me from the shackles of working as someone else’s employee.
Once I have done that, then I can play with fiction.
We’ll see how this goes. But something needs to change, and I am going to start now.