I make the same New Year’s resolutions every year. They are – in semi particular order – as follows:
- Write more
- Cook more
- Exercise more
- Learn guitar
I did some of that this past year. I wrote more than I did in 2013, but not as much as I would like to have. Same with the cooking and the exercising. The guitar thing didn’t come to pass in any fashion.
They seem like good goals, at least in intention. Obviously they would be better if they were more specific. So I think I’ll stick with them again for 2015. But it strikes me now that they are actually code – a shorthand for what my secret goals are. Allow me to translate:
- Write more = Change careers
- Cook more = Lose weight
- Exercise more = Lose more weight
- Learn guitar = Be awesome
I like resolutions, but more than honing the statements that I set as goals, I like the idea of resolutions because it is a good opportunity to take stock. I accomplished a lot of things in the last twelve months and I’m proud of my 2014. I like the idea of doing even more in 2015 and I have lofty ideas that involve getting up early every morning, working out to one of my Jillian Michaels’ DVDs, kicking ass at work, be home by 4:30 EVERY DAY, walk the dog EVERY DAY and sit down and write for an hour, EVERY DAY! And then, only then, if I have accomplished those things, can I watch something on television that will inevitably feature Gordon Ramsey.
It sounds so doable. Simple. But I know better.
Or maybe I’m feeling cynical already (in what is usually a blissfully optimistic week of the year for me) because I’m just a bit down. I had a wonderful holiday season and I got to spend a lot of amazing time with my family and with my sister’s kids. But I got a bad cold. I had a few nights where I drank too much that left me feeling ashamed and jejune. And for some reason I had a really had time just dropping in and enjoying the events that I had so looked forward to.
After Christmas – once my house guests left and it was just me, the dog and the holiday candy – I had a bit of sad realization. I have a wonderful life. I have a fun and full life. I am lucky and surrounded by great and amazing people and things. I do not, however, have a happy life. And I don’t know how to fix it.
I want to. And it seems like a good project for 2015. But I have no idea where to start. I should just be able to decide to be happy and make it happen. Not that I think it should be a simple magic mind trick, where you say “be happy” and then you are. On the other hand, I don’t think that there is some big accomplishment that I need to blast my way through to get there. I’m guessing that it is going to be an exercise in radical acceptance.
That said, there are several good sized pieces missing from the “big picture” of what I want my life to be. Things of the “supportive partner” and “meaningful work” variety. The fact is that I want these things. I don’t think that I’m going to stop wanting them any time soon. Is it possible to be happy and unsatisfied? It seems to be for others, but I have always sensed that there are people in my life for whom happiness works a bit more like a talent than a state of being. Like being athletic or having perfect pitch. They just have it in their genes somehow. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that gene. I got double jointed elbows instead. They lead to less happiness than one might expect.
Obviously I don’t have this worked out yet, but that is the nebulous 2015 goal. Not “be happy” per se – but a mindful exploration of that that means for me, separate from what I think it should mean. And if I don’t think I’m getting anywhere I’ll just pick up the guitar and work on “being awesome” instead. Who knows, maybe both of those roads will lead to the same place.