When I was a kid, my mom would sit us down shortly after New Year's and have us write down our New Year's resolutions. Goal making is important, especially when you're young, but at the time it always felt really silly, like a chore or something. Last year, I started working up my resolutions in a Wendy's while I was charging my phone on my way back from Texas. I had the time and the momentum, and it felt right.
This year, I've had moments where I felt really inspired to be better, to be more in control, to be less lazy, to take on big things like starting my own business, but I never put any of those feelings into concrete resolutions. So I thought a lot this end-of-year about whether I wanted to make resolutions for 2015...I've talked here before about not needing to wait until the New Year to do whatever I felt I needed to do...and what, really, a resolution is.
It seems to me, resolutions are these little goals that point us toward the person we want to become. Healthier, thinner, better read, better educated, more positive, more aware, more social, more independent...whatever it may be. When we add it all up, I think we want to be all of these things because we think it will make us happy.
So, this year I'm taking a cue from Beyonce, as you do, and making my aspiration in life to be happy. Instead of setting specific goals, or resolutions, that I think would help bring me to a better place of happiness, I want to focus on the end goal itself. This year, I want to ask myself, always, will this make me happy? And if the answer is year, do it, and if it's not, don't. Because really, it's hard to predict on one day what will make me happy in three, six, nine months. Those posts shift. And that's okay. That's not something to beat myself up about at the end of the year. That's just the nature of the thing.
I've thought about this a lot in the last week, and this is a harder question to answer than it might seem. There is the question of instant gratification vs. long term happiness. There is happiness by proxy vs. direct happiness. Sometimes, the things you most think will make you happy are the most disappointing of all. And, when it comes down to it, you and I cannot see the future, so we can't really know how we will feel, we can only make an educated guess.
I know that I cannot always be happy, and that every emotion is valuable. I do not expect to be blissfully happy for every moment of 2015. I know that even with this goal in mind, I will still be sad and lonely and irritated and angry and every other emotion at different times. I cannot dismiss these feelings, and I never would, even if I could. But I think that by being more mindful, and more persistently aware of this overarching goal, and less stuck in these small checkbox goals, that's the way to move forward. This is not to say that checking small goals off of lists is a bad thing. I love checking things off more than the average person. But these things are not the measure of a life. Happiness, in this vein of thought, is less an emotion and more a state-of-being, a rosy tinge at the edge of the picture.
We all make tiny bad decisions every day. We watch another episode on Netflix and are late getting ready for work. We don't do the dishes and then the mess stresses us out. We don't take the time to exercise or meditate and then we feel on edge all day. We spend too much money on groceries, and spent too little quality time with the people who are important to us. We don't do these things on purpose; they just happen. I want to be more mindful. I want to make the choice that will ultimately make me happier. I want to make this choice a 90/100 times a day. I want to make it 100/100 times a day, but let's be more realistic.
I want to be debt-free, and I want to travel, and I want to be a better friend, and I want to dance more, and I want to laugh more, and I want to eat more vegetables and I want to single handedly keep the postal service going and I want so many other things, but mostly, I want to be happy. I think that would be the best me of all.
Here's to being happy in 2015. Maybe you, too, will take up this "resolution."
Yours Truly, Jen
January 7, 2015