Ugh. It’s the time of year when we are smothered in “New year, new you!” stories. Articles, listicles, tips-ticles, blogs, vlogs and every other communication known to mankind, all serving one purpose: to let you know that you are not good enough, and you need to try harder.
I just got tricked into reading one myself. It said “10 Small Habits, blah blah blah.” It even had a chart, showing a tiny little mark for “effort” and a great big mark for “positive effect.” OK, I can do that! Oh, wait, no I can’t. This deluded person calls a thrice weekly full body workout a “small habit.” Yeah, tell that to the mom who works five days a week and tries to make something akin to dinner most nights.
Read for one hour a day, he says! Oh yes, that extra hour between getting up, getting dressed, getting in the car, driving to work, working, heading home, stopping at the supermarket, getting whatever it is that’s akin to dinner on the table, washing the dishes, throwing in a load of laundry — what, were you going to watch TV or go online? Are you high? How dare you? Didn’t you look at your phone enough during the 60-second breaks you took all day long?
Isn’t there vacuuming to do? Are you going to have a cigarette? In this day and age? Haven’t you seen the commercials? Hell, I saw one the other day, I had to laugh — it showed someone’s children, coworkers, and I don’t know who all else, giving filthy looks to smokers. It was a smoking cessation commercial. Showed the smoker All Alone, outside of The Circle of Life, doing their dirty deed, getting scorned, letting everyone down. ‘Cause you know what makes most people quit their vices? Making them feel like a pile of crap.
We all know smoking is bad. We all want to quit. Some of us will succeed — some will quit using willpower, but plenty will do so because the universe lines up just so and we manage to quit.
What else do we all say we are going to do this brand-spanking-new, still-in-its-shrinkwrap year? Let’s see. Losing weight is a huge one, no pun intended. I have no advice. I don’t like weighing more than I ever have, but that doesn’t make me eat less. If you are lucky and can go to a gym, that can help you eat less. You get this idea in your head, “I don’t want to ruin that trip to the gym, so I won’t have that giant piece of cake.” It can create a really good cycle of positive results making it easy to go for even more positive results. Just don’t try “no pain, no gain.” That rule only applies to the already fit.
Am I saying don’t even bother trying to do anything different? Not at all. I am saying stop feeling bad about the way you are. Some of us smoke, some of us are fat, some of us waste money, some drink. I used to loathe myself with every cigarette. Every single cigarette I smoked I called myself vile names. But one day I realized nobody who loved me wanted me talking to myself that way. Nobody. And I stopped. I would start to have those “how worthless are you for smoking” thoughts and I’d stop and say, “No. I am addicted to cigarettes and I am having a cigarette. I am still a decent human being.” Turns out, that ugly voice in your head when you are doing something you wish you didn’t do? It does not help you not do that thing. In fact, there is plenty of evidence it makes it harder to quit.
Saving money — that’s a biggie. An insight — if you have trouble saving money, chances are you don’t have enough to begin with. It’s very easy to be pious about saving if you have enough to pay your bills, have some fun and sock some away. Lots of people don’t. “Well then,” the articles scold, “don’t buy that coffee!” Now, I am all for not buying the $5 coffee or the coffee three or four times a day. But a nice tasty cup of coffee that you enjoy in the morning? I don’t think any of us are going to change our lives skipping that. Let’s even say it’s $15 a week, tax included, for a large each morning. Yeah, that’s about $60 a month, $700 for the year. I ain’t saying $700 is nothing. But is it worth missing out on a small pleasure every day for a year?
Oh, that list I got suckered into reading? It also said to sleep seven or eight hours a night. Now I am wondering if it was a joke article. I bet that’s it. Satire.
Listen, life is too short to spend every day wishing it was different, wishing you were different, wishing everybody was different. Be careful with your sugar if you need to, eat less bacon, do all those things your doctor tells you to do for your health. But if you fail, do not talk to yourself like you are subhuman.
You’re OK. Are you mostly kind? Do you not tailgate? Do you do what you personally can do to make the world a little bit brighter? Most of us do. OK then. Pat yourself on the back, wad up those resolutions, and chuck ’em right in the basket. Give yourself three points, and Happy 2019!