One Year, One Thing

 
Image from page 410 of "St. Nicholas [serial]" (1873)Internet Archive Book Images.

Image from page 410 of “St. Nicholas [serial]” (1873)Internet Archive Book Images.

Today Facebook provided  me with my year in review, saving me the trouble of reflecting on the year myself.  (Ha!, nice try, Facebook!)

Facebook’s look back at my year bears little resemblance to how I experienced it.  Facebook missed many high points and all of the low ones. Tis the season for looking back over the year and thinking about the next one. Despite it’s flaws, Facebook’s version of my year had me smiling. It had me sighing, too.

We smile for all we accomplished and sigh for the times we fell short.

We smile for the joys and sigh at the sorrows.

We smile and sigh out of relief, too.

 
This sighing and smiling is important.  We ought to reflect more often. Better, we ought to put what we learn from reflection into action.

Resolutions are not reflection in action. Resolutions are culturally encouraged self-flagellation, lists of the many ways we fall short as professionals, parents, people.

Skip resolutions. Skip the harshness.

The only resolution worth keeping is to no longer make resolutions.

For 2014,  I decided to do ONE THING  I believed would improve my life. I committed to developing a meditation habit again.

In January  I set a target number of meditation minutes I wanted to achieve each month.  (Yes, that’s my evaluator side showing.) To support my practice I completed a series of weekend meditation retreats.  The first one instructed us in the importance of gentleness. Obsessive tracking is anything but gentle.  I stopped  collecting data. Instead, I decided I wanted to sit every day, even for only  5 minutes.  It didn’t always happen, but I didn’t give myself a hard time about it.  I also didn’t pat myself on the back too much about consistency.  I meditated more days than not in 2014.

I haven’t participated in a research study to conclusively document the benefits of my practice,  or measure whether my telomeres are in better shape, but I have seen them and felt them.   Part of meditation is noticing and being gentle about when the mind goes off on one of its tangents.  This is what minds do.  Though I hadn’t anticipated it, being gentle with myself on the cushion allowed me to give myself a break off the cushion.

Gentleness is not permission to be a slacker- it’s simply permission to be a human being with all the glory and grit that comes with it.

My unsolicited advice for 2015 is to pick one thing, ONE THING, that you believe will have a positive impact in your work or personal life and do it.   It could be anything- ANYTHING.  It could be cooking vegetarian food one night a week, or taking a walk around the block, or coloring in a coloring book, or re-learning the language you took in high school,  or taking photographs, or writing 500 words a day, or trying ballet, or mastering a computer language, or keeping a gratitude journal.

Your ONE THING  doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. All that matters is it matters to you.

Do that one thing consistently and with gentleness and see what happens.

I haven’t decided my ONE THING for 2015. Have you?

 

P.S. Yes, I realize the image at the top is crooked.  That’s how it downloaded and I embrace the imperfection of it.  Gentleness, remember?
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