This is day one. Today is a beginning. It’s a brand new year with a shiny, clean slate. Yes, pessimists like to point out that this is just another day—another year—on a long string of days—and years—that comprise your shitty, piece of shit life.
Do you know what the Greek word pessimus means? The worst. Pessimists are literally the worst.
I, conversely, am a (mostly) steadfast optimist when it comes to beginnings. Every January 1st, I sit down some place cozy and write down a list of resolutions in my journal.
We see resolutions as determinations, which they very much are, but resolution comes from a Latin word that comes from a Latin word that comes from a Latin word, and all three of those seem to mean something very different from determination. Those Latin words mean to loosen, unbind, and release.
Resolutions are more of a release than you might think.
My resolution list starts to take shape somewhere in the middle of December. I ask myself two questions.
1. What are the things I want to accomplish next year?
2. Where do I see myself this time next year?
Resolutions come quickly. They are separate, but interconnected, aspirations and desires revolving around one thing: happiness, or, if you consider yourself something of an Epicurean like I do, then we’re talkin’ ’bout hedone: pleasure. Pleasure of the soul. These two questions bring to focus a much larger one that I need to break apart to answer: How can I make myself happiest next year?
See, that question is a big, vague thing, just like happiness itself. Happiness is a cloud. No, better yet, happiness is a ball of strings. It’s a knot of them, the strands all blurred together and indistinguishable. To really understand the roots of your happiness—your hedone—you have to pull the ball apart, loosening and unbinding the strands. Released, you can see all of the individual parts of your happiness for what they really are. Those strands of string become my aspirations—my resolutions. From their release, I am resolved. I found seven strings today.
1. Give a fuck about your friends.
Write them letters. Mail them birthday cards. Shoot them emails. Send them texts. Call them. Visit them. Love the hell out of them. Don’t begrudge them for losing touch. Life is a busy thing.
2. Give a shit about your body.
Exercise. Keep healthy habits. Love your body for the imperfect, beautiful, sexy, wonderful, and, at least for you, singular thing it is. Maybe floss more. Get massages. Drink water. Lots of water.
3. Express yourself
Write it down. Type it out. Paint it. Say it out loud. Don’t bottle anything just to have it explode on some poor unlucky soul later. Articulate your feelings. And when you write, “write like a motherfucker.”1
4. Make time for yourself
Don’t feel selfish for wanting to take care of yourself. Make yourself a priority.
It’s good for your mind. It’s good for your soul. Books are everywhere and just about free at this point. Read. Read a little or a lot every day. Read as much as you want and can. Read a book a week. But don’t worry if you don’t, because it’s time to…
6. Stop sweating the small stuff
It’s not the end of the world, whatever it is. In a week, you wont even remember it. So breathe. Let go of the anxiety and stress. Let go of the worry. Breathe.
7. Be a bad-ass
You’ve spent too much of your life deprecating and devaluing yourself. It’s time to stop. It’s time to be your own hero. Be a goddamn champion. A magnificent, goddamn champion!
Happy New Year, everyone.
As one of my oldest friends told me today, I hope you have the most fantastically, amazing year.
1. Strayed, Cheryl. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. (Vintage, 2012) Originally published on TheRumpus.Net, August 19, 2010.