The Pursuit of Happiness
The holidays are right around the corner and at least a good portion of us are still running around buying presents, preparing for giant feasts, or finalizing travel plans. I, for one, still have a couple of scarves to finish (I’ve been practicing my knitting and crocheting so yes, everyone is getting scarves), and preparing for my road trip down to my parents house. I love the holidays, but with Christmas so close, my mind has started to shift toward New Years. Perhaps resolutions are cliche and most people don’t stick to them anyway, but every year I take this opportunity to reevaluate my life, the choices that led to this point, and where I am on the path toward achieving my goals. There is certainly no wrong time to make a positive change, but right now, more so than any other time of the year, we are encouraged to act, to stop putting off those life-improving habits and join the movement of people also trying to change for the better. So hop on this bandwagon, y’all. We’re on a journey toward a more beautiful world.
We’re all aware of the typical resolutions: losing weight, eating healthier, exercising more, saving more, traveling the world… Americans know how to dream. Our national slogan should be “Go big or go home.” But of course that’s part of the problem. We shoot for these impressive goals then lose our motivation when we fall short. Also, we craft these resolutions on the basis of bettering ourselves but what does better actually mean, and who defines it? Our thinking is warped from the very beginning. Why do I want to lose weight? Is it because I’m unhealthy in my present state? Is it because I need to? No, absolutely not. It’s because society has told me thin is attractive. It’s because I’ve been told I’d probably have more suitors if I was smaller. It’s because of the praise I got the last time I lost a bunch of weight. Comfortably sitting here with the 30 lbs I’d once lost, I look back and think... Was I happier? That’s the ultimate goal, right? Happiness. The answer is no, I was not happier when I was thinner. If anything I was constantly hangry, you know… angry because you’re always so hungry. I ate rabbit food and I spent all my free time running the stadium stairs at UCLA. Not to mention the thousands I spent on a personal trainer. I had no time to pursue activities that would actually nourish my mind and spirit. As we close out this tumultuous decade, I say death be to the vanity that fuels these wretched pipedreams! I reject these generic resolutions!
Is that too harsh? Forgive me if I just trashed your resolution, but perhaps your situation is different. If weight loss would be beneficial to your health, by all means, girl/boy, get it. My purpose is to challenge the typical reasoning, to encourage you to reevaluate your motivators, to dare you to be brave and dream beyond the status quo. What does happiness look like to you? Also, what do I know? Don’t let anyone tell you what is wrong or right for you and your family, most certainly not me. But if this has sparked a twinkle of curiosity and inspiration, let’s discuss some tips for achieving our resolutions.
- Plan It Out
Crafting a resolution requires some thought and consideration. No worthwhile goal is achieved in one day. Changing our habits takes time and effort, so preparing a plan will help you stay on track. Also, thinking about this ahead of time, aka before January 1st, will help you to mentally prepare for the challenges and possible obstacles ahead. Along those same lines, preparing for challenges means you can brainstorm possible solutions so you won’t be caught off guard. Say it with me, “You are a freight train! You will not be derailed!”
- Talk About It
Don’t keep it a secret! Put it out in the universe. Talking about our dreams and goals helps to solidify them. They become much more real once put into actual words. Additionally, communicating our goals to others promotes accountability, which means you are less likely to give up on your goal when you have friends and family asking you how your resolution is going. For example, last year my resolutions were to move to a different state and to acquire some new hobbies. I told everyone about my plans to move. No one thought I’d actually do it, but that was precisely why I was so vocal about it. I knew I needed that accountability, and it worked! Mid February I packed up my car and drove 15 hours north.
- Acknowledge Small Victories and Reward Yourself
Be kind to yourself. Bettering ourselves is a daily struggle and each day we should fight to improve even just a little. Not every day will be perfect. It seems life has a way of throwing us major curveballs when we least expect it, and that’s ok. I’ve been walkin’ my whole life and still manage to trip over my darn feet every once in a while. Struggles don’t take away from our victories: in fact, they bolster them. Be proud of yourself, and reward yourself after little achievements. Perhaps you may not agree with me, but being human is hard. I’m pretty proud of myself for even staying alive, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah staying alive, staying alive.
During these upcoming festivities, I encourage you to look within and evaluate what this last decade was like for you. What would you like to change? What areas of your life would you like to improve? What will happiness look like for you in the coming years? Communicate with your friends and family, share your aspirations, and inspire others to follow suit. Happiness is not a destination but a journey, a journey that looks vastly different for each individual. And contrary to popular belief, I don’t think of it as a singular path we must strictly follow. Stop and smell the flowers, take a detour, carve out a new trail. Make 2020 the year you dare to be free: free from the weight of societal expectations, free from routine, free from the norm. If anyone needs me, I’ll be spreading my little wings and flying right on through to 2020. Catch y’all on the other side.