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The Self-Discovery Digest

by Elizabeth and Katherine Hirsh
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January 2010 Archives

New Year's tradition dictates that we resolve to be better people by crafting resolutions such as being a nicer person, eating a healthier diet, finally cleaning out the garage, or conquering our fear and asking for a raise. While such resolutions are terrific if followed, we often make them based on what we believe we should do. By focusing on resolutions that seem socially appropriate we may be simply creating new ways to beat ourselves up. So what to do? How do we enhance our lives without turning self-improvement into another means to criticize ourselves for not measuring up? Read on for three helpful suggestions that we like to call Un-Resolution Solutions.

Don't take yourself too seriously
When tempted to believe that you are all wrong for failing to live up to a goal or ideal like keeping a spotless home, exercising daily, or always having a kind word to say, ask yourself if what you have done (or have failed to do) truly matters. Is your kitchen going to attract the health department? Will your fitness be gravely affected if you miss a day here and there? Is your relationship doomed if you act grumpy one day? Relax, you may have missed the mark a little but the fact that you care and are trying is what matters. And if you have let someone important down (even yourself), apologize, do better next time, and then let it go. Remember that none of us is perfect. Forgive yourself (forgive others too). The world goes on turning whether you are a good or bad housekeeper, have a perfect body-mass index, or are nice all the time, so keep your "mistakes" in perspective.

Make fun a regular part of your day
This may seem overly simplistic and even appear to be "fluff" advice, but how often do you allow yourself fun or take the time to savor a light moment when it comes your way? As adults we are often led to believe that fun is something frivolous and devoid of value. Yet have you ever watched a child or dog at play? If this brought you joy and made you feel more cheerful and calm, then you know that fun has great merit. Perhaps, though, you see fun as something other people - people without problems, responsibilities, or worries - get to do. If so, you are missing out. Almost all of us have circumstances that are challenging and beyond our control. What helps us manage and keep going despite our difficulties is indulging in fun. And there is a fabulous secondary benefit: when we make fun a priority, we are happier and nicer to be around - a total win-win.

Take breaks
Just because you need to care for a sick loved one, are going through a divorce, or have to put together a work project that seems impossible doesn't mean you have to eat, drink, and sleep this difficult situation all the time. Take a break, even if it's only for a minute or two. Don't wait until the problem is solved to find moments of relief - the problem may never be "solved" (sorry to say) and therefore you need to carve out time away now not later. The same goes for toxic people in your life. Take breaks from them, too. Sometimes we even need a break from ourselves and our obsessions, like "I'm too fat" or "I'm not successful enough," etc. Get away from these destructive thoughts for a while by doing something positive, something that captivates your attention, such as visiting with a friend, listening to music, or taking a walk. Find little reprieves from what's bringing you down. Breaks will help sustain you when you have to get back to what's tough in life. Don't worry, your problems will still be there, but at least you will have escaped their grip for a time.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 21
Change your life for the better by trying out these Un-Resolution Solutions. Keep things as simple and joyful as possible by not taking yourself too seriously, making time for fun, and taking breaks from the things that get you down. With no elaborate steps to follow or big goals to accomplish, we believe these three straightforward and doable strategies will support you in making 2010 and beyond more satisfying and enjoyable!