Unlike all the other years of my adult life thus far, this one started sans resolutions.
It wasn’t a conscious decision. It just sort of happened. Maybe because December was a bit of a crazy month and I didn’t have much time to think, you know REALLY THINK, about what I liked about my life and what I didn’t. Or maybe, subconsciously I just wanted to give myself a break.
I don’t really know.
Somehow, over the past month that’s changed. As the first weeks of 2015 have rolled in and passed by, I’ve steadily been identifying the things that need work. There are lots.
But, I’ve managed to whittle all the things that need fixing down into a list of 5 phrases I’ve decided I want to live by.
Here they are:
1. Be Mindful
Take care. That’s what my mom always says when we say goodbye to each other. And she really means it. Take care with everything and everyone. I guess that’s what mindfulness is all about.
There are a few things I’m trying to be particularly mindful about, which include:
- spending money wisely – or maybe rather, saving. I’ve even set up a budget
- living a healthy lifestyle – getting outdoors often, eating well and properly, exercising
- time management – STOP THE GLORIFICATION OF ‘BUSY!’, down with the false hustle, remember that good is often the enemy of the best
- happiness – I’m frighteningly good at making myself miserable and allowing other people to do more of the same. This is not on. NEVER. And when you’re miserable you can’t really bring happiness to anyone else, so it’s a vicious cycle.
- clutter – I’ll never pull off minimalism, but man, can I unlearn the habit of hoarding? Yes!
- relationships – cherish and cultivate those that bring joy and life and wisdom. Prune away those that do the opposite or just leave me feeling ‘meh’… or even worse ‘bleh.’ (luckily there really aren’t very many of those)
2. Be present
This follows on very strongly from the last point listed above: relationships. We owe those who are around us in real life our full attention. Our eye contact. Our belly laughs. Our shoulders and ears. But, somehow we seldom manage to be ALL there.
We listen with half an ear, absently smile instead of laugh, look up from whatever we’re busy with for only the shortest glimpse of the other person’s face.
And what are we busy with? Well, I can’t answer for the rest of you, but for me it’s certainly my phone.
This year I’ve made a pact with myself to leave my phone in my bag when I’m in the company of others. Also when I’m in what feels like an awkward situation – for instance sitting alone waiting for something or someone, not having anyone to talk to at a social gathering, you know that sort of thing – I’d like to practice NOT using my phone as a safety blanket. Because I reckon that sometimes the most unexpectedly wonderful moments happen while we’re crouched over a little screen… and we end up missing out.
3. Be genuine
Politeness is great, but honesty is even better.
4. Be kind
My cousin, Tanee, has this profound quote on her fridge (and as her Whatsapp status): “Be kind. No exceptions.”
Now, look, I don’t find being kind particularly hard. Maybe I’m just surrounded by really lovely people!
BUT, there are a few exceptions to whom I owe more kindness this year:
- The slow walkers in front of me in the Golden Acre, the erratic drivers all around me on Sea Point Main Road, the rude and unhelpful people who work in the service industry, the ones who intimidate me
- My parents – I don’t think there will ever be anyone who loves me quite as much or as unconditionally as my mom and dad do. Yet, I often find myself being unnecessarily impatient with them. Maybe it’s exactly because I know I don’t have to win their love or convince them that I’m actually an okay person. How terribly twisted is that? So, no more of that!
- Myself – If I said half the things I think to myself about myself aloud to any of my friends about them, I wouldn’t have any left. Why are we so hard on ourselves?! “You look terrible on that photo… as usual.” “Really? Could you not just say something funny/cool/clever for once?” “How did you manage to burn the toast? Typical! You’re a wreck.” That’s sad! We should treat ourselves the way we wish others would treat us. And maybe once we’ve made peace with ourselves, we might even be able to treat those closest to us (see above point) with the tenderness they deserve.
5. Live simply
Do the things you love and do them often. Spend time with the people you love as much as you can. Stay in touch with those that are far away. Water your plants. Make your bed. Do what your hand finds to do. Enjoy every moment. Trust in the goodness of others. Stop checking Facebook randomly. Eat delicious food. Drink delicious wine. Swim in the sea. Tell people you love them.
Life is really not as complicated as we make it out to be.
Featured image: Coffee In the Mountains