I gave up creating annual New Year’s resolutions several years ago after several years of failure. The resolutions that failed tended to be the specific ones — you know the type: lose 42 pounds, work out 192 minutes a week, call my parents 14 times a month.
Now, I simply recycle my annual resolutions the three “Rules of Life” I try to follow year round. I don’t completely ignore the New Year’s resolution tradition. In fact, I find this is the ideal time of year to renew my commitment to my “Rules of Life,” which, sometimes, let’s be honest here, can waver now and then.
1. Eat well. Sleep well. Move lots.
Inspired by author Michael Pollan‘s seven words and seven rules for eating, Eat food, not too much, mostly plants, I have condensed my practice of self-care from the specific (for example, thinking I need to maintain a strict diet and a certain number of minutes of exercise a week) to the general. It is much simpler to strive for a healthy lifestyle that involves the three things I need to maintain good health good food, sleep and exercise.
2. Regrets: bad. No regrets: good.
I have a few regrets, that is that continue to linger several years after the event that triggered the regret has long passed. This, to put it bluntly, sucks.
Life has taught me when I am faced with a difficult choice, decision or fork in the road, I need to ask myself this: Will choice A or B leave me with regrets? Sometimes it is hard to predict an outcome, but simply asking the question provides the time, space and, hopefully, insight to come up with a solution to a dilemma. While this approach works for me, I often use the “regret” question to positive feedback with my clients in my social work practice.
Ultimately, I strive to live my life so that there are very, very few regrets.
3. Be kind.
As a child, I was taught typical good manners: “Please,” “Thank you” and lots and lots of “Excuse me.” Consequently, I find it quite easy to maintain good manners with the general public except, of course, for those my 23-year-old son calls the shitty people of the world. In those scenarios, my motto is:Ignore and escape.
Have you noticed that it is much harder to show day-in, day-out kindness to the people you love? It is often our partner, our kids, maybe an elderly parent or a sibling, whom we snap at and show impatience and irritation.
Just being mindful of this phenomenon will often create change. An apology or two helps. My children have heard this speech a couple of times: I’m sorry. I’m cranky due to (job, weather, finances pick one) and I shouldn’t be taking it out on you. I will try to do better.
It sounds so simple, but simple kindness matters more than we realize. Kindness glues couples together and makes each of us feel valued, appreciated and, most importantly, loved.
As a bonus, Rule No. 3 often ensures that Rule No. 2 holds true and that regrets are far too few to mention.