A resolution for us all: be kinder to yourself this year

Off the Shelf

“I think resolutions are dumb.” The other morning my coworkers and I were in the middle of a spirited discussion about the time-honored tradition of New Year’s resolutions. It quickly became apparent that one of my coworkers was not a big fan of the custom: “Whenever I make resolutions I feel like I inevitably set myself up to fail,” she explained to me, shaking her head.

While I have actually experienced a couple of resounding successes over the past two years with New Year’s resolutions, overall I am forced to agree with my coworker; my resolutions have most often ended in abject failure. So what has made the difference for me between success and failure? When I look back on the successful changes I’ve made to my life, one of the unexpected patterns I’ve recently identified is a growing acceptance and appreciation for myself, perceived flaws and all. I think the birthplace of too many resolutions is a strong dislike or even hatred of something about ourselves. Whether it’s our weight, problems with time management, lack of productivity, or lack of a particular skill or hobby, the idea is that a lack exists, and we want to eradicate it. In my own experience, when I am so focused on what I do not like about myself in my efforts to change, the minute I sense failure, I begin to mentally give up; thus, failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But what if we began these attempts to change by focusing on strengths we already possess?

Two years ago when I decided I wanted to transform my eating habits, I decided that instead of obsessing about my weaknesses (in a word: cheese), I would start by focusing on my areas of strength. I already had several healthy habits in place: I ate breakfast every morning, avoided soft drinks and coffee, and was generally good about not snacking between meals. Instead of beating myself up over my unhealthy habits or trying to change them all at once, I celebrated my strengths, and added one healthy habit every couple of weeks. I embraced setbacks as part of the process, and made sure to treat myself occasionally. It has taken time, and I still have areas in which I need to continue to grow, but this positive perspective is definitely one reason why I’ve experienced so much success in developing a healthier eating lifestyle.

How about you? Are you considering a healthier lifestyle this year? Whether it involves changes in your physical, mental or emotional health, stop by the library and see how our books, DVDs, activities and programs can help you become an even better you. And keep in mind: the library’s Festival of Chocolate is coming up soon. For me, the Festival of Chocolate is an absolutely vital activity that boosts my mental health during one of the longest and most challenging winter months of the year. I’ll definitely be there to enjoy the food, music and fun, so I hope to see you at the library Sunday, January 29 from 2:00-4:00. For questions regarding how to enter your homemade chocolate in the Festival, or to purchase tickets to attend (priced at $10 each), stop by the library or contact us at 515-832-9100.