I don’t like New Year’s resolutions. I learned a long time ago that they’re easy to make but hard to keep.
Say you make a resolution to give up chocolate for a year. The first few days, weeks, maybe even months are easy. But then you think, “What am I trying to prove?” And “Who will care if I do eat chocolate?” So you partake of the delicacy, and your New Year’s resolution is out the window.
Once you break a resolution, it’s over. Your resolution failed.
Fitness centers know this truth only too well. Every January, membership increases as people realize they ate too much over the holidays and set out to do something about it in the new year. But by the end of February, the majority of those new members stop attending. Their motivation for life change wanes. Maybe they missed a day or two of going to the gym. The promise of meeting their New Year’s resolutions quickly dissipates.
I stopped making resolutions because of too many experiences like that. But I still believe the dawning of a new year is a good time to reflect on the previous one and put realistic, attainable plans in place. So these days, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I set goals.
Whereas a resolution is dashed once broken, a goal is more achievable. You might fail along the way, but you just pick yourself up and try again. The goal remains in sight.
For example, if you want to get healthier and stronger in 2017, you might make a goal to that effect — and that would be more attainable than committing to going to the gym five days a week for 50 weeks of the year. See the difference?
As I ruminate 2016, I smile at my accomplishments. It was a good year. And I look ahead to making 2017 even better.
Has the busyness of life and the complexity of technology got you stressed? Relax. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, underqualified and worn out, just laugh.
There’s nothing like a good belly laugh that makes your cheeks hurt and leaves you breathless. I can’t predict when that will happen, but sometimes I just get carried away with laughing — to the point that I can’t stop. And that’s not a bad thing.
I saw a quote by Doug Hall recently that says, “You can increase your brain power three- to fivefold simply by laughing and having fun before working on a problem.” That got my attention because I love to laugh.
The act of laughing changes brainwave activity, improving short-term memory. It also releases feel-good endorphins that give your brain an overall sense of pleasure. And it’s contagious and builds connections between people. I know some of my best memories have laughter at their core.
The best part is if I was stressed before a laughing attack, I’m not after. Laughter is an ideal stress release — and it’s free.
Laughter has a lot of other health benefits, too. According to the Mayo Clinic, It boosts your immune system, naturally relieves pain and increases happiness. If you’re feeling down, find something to laugh about; it will lighten your load.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and laugh. You have nothing to lose.
Our words don’t take much effort to say, but they can have a lasting impact.
On a recent run, I approached an older man who was jogging. I smiled at his efforts, impressed at him for getting out and exercising his body. He wasn’t going all that fast, but he was running nonetheless. It took effort, discipline, and willpower.
I didn’t say anything as I neared the man for fear of startling him. But as I passed, he uttered three words to me, “Way to go!”
I turned my head to look at him, smiled and said, “You too,” and gave him an enthusiastic thumbs up. And then I continued on my way. Our encounter took only seconds.
I don’t know which way the man went. On my way home when I returned to the point I had seen him, he was nowhere to be found. But his words stayed with me. He had spared some energy and voiced them willingly, wanting to encourage a stranger passing by.
How often in life do we have an opportunity to do the same? It doesn’t take much time, thought, or effort, but our words can make someone’s day. A compliment on a piece of clothing you like. Acknowledgment that you appreciate someone’s smile. A greeting when you come in contact with someone.
A common meme says, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” I’d say the jogging man certainly exhibited that kindness. And he made me want to do the same.
When you’re young and in love, you do things without thinking. When you say you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you have no idea what that will entail.
I was taught to be a woman of my word, and thankfully, my husband was taught to be a man of his word. And we’ve stuck to our wedding vows, through ups and downs, tribulations, elation, you name it. Was it always easy? Absolutely not. There were times each of us wanted to walk away, but we didn’t. Why? Because we committed to be faithful to each other “in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others as long as we both shall live.”
We’ve definitely experienced all of those extremes in our nearly 26 years of married life, and I’m happy to say we’ve come through stronger as a result of staying together when the going got tough. And now as our five children grow older and leave the nest, we have the rest of our lives together to look forward to. We still dream and plan, we laugh and cry, we fight and make up — together.
We just returned from a weekend away at a resort for an early anniversary celebration, and it was wonderful. We enjoyed some much-needed downtime with each other. We weren’t on any schedule and simply appreciated being together and making more memories.
We strolled to a breakfast venue on a brisk morning. We played cribbage on the balcony of our room overlooking the TPC Scottsdale championship Stadium golf course. We participated in the resort’s Christmas festivities — I talked him into going on the ice slide with me, and we rode the train through the resort to admire the 3 billion Christmas lights. But mostly, we liked being together.
It’s important to make time for each other as a couple. Life moves fast, kids grow up, and then you’re left with each other. If you don’t make time for one another a priority now, you might end up with a stranger. Don’t let that happen. Keep the flame of romance alive and enjoy the times you do have together. You’ll both be better off for it in the long run.
Christian, wife, mother of 5, breast cancer survivor, marathon finisher, writer and editor, author of "Help! I'm a Science Project"