The Anti-Resolution Path to Resolutions

Every year I struggle to not set New Year’s resolutions.  Every year, I tell myself that I am not going to set myself up for failure one more time.  And then, every year, I find myself excited and motivated about some crazy goal (or, more likely, 14 or 15 crazy goals) that somehow managed to slip into my consciousness without me acknowledging they’re new year’s resolutions at all.

This year, I am going to head myself off at the pass.  I’m going to set a few, simple resolutions.

First, let’s talk some more about being judgmental.  I’m no expert, but it seems like the path to being a bitter and lonely person is to make your way through the world by clinging to small thoughts, thinking the worst of others, jumping to uninformed and unfair conclusions, and summarizing others whole characters based on what may be a few isolated events.

Since “Don’t be judgmental” doesn’t work so well as a resolution–it’s oh, so hard to focus on not doing something–I will instead:

  1. Notice when I am being judgmental
  2. Correct myself in my phrasing or thinking to make it non-judgmental.

For example, if I hear myself saying, “He’s an idiot.”  I will correct myself to say, “In this particular instance, his idea doesn’t work so well.”  This gives me a positive action to take instead of something to worry about avoiding.  After all, if there’s one important lesson I’ve learned from hang gliding, it’s that when we fixate on what we want to avoid, we end up right in the middle of the puddle.

Second, I want to revisit the idea of coming up with great gift ideas for my loved ones.  Since trying to come up with ideas for everyone might be a bit too much to expect, my resolution is to come up with great gift ideas for the 2 most difficult people I buy gifts for:  my nephew and my husband.  The rules for this resolution are that the gifts must be within the price range I normally spend for Christmas, but can be purchased and given at any time.  The gifts must be received and agreed upon to be great gift ideas by both my nephew and my husband for my resolution to be achieved.

Finally, since I like a list to have at least three items in it, I resolve to eat more fruits and vegetables.  I am a bit disappointed that I need this resolution–eating lots of fruits and vegetables had become a way of life for me some time ago.  However, since I find myself eating fewer and fewer fruits and vegetables, I resolve to eat enough fruits and vegetables to average 3 or more servings per day.  By fruits and vegetables, I mean raw or steamed, unprocessed foods.  French fries are not a vegetable.

Three resolutions.  We shall see if even that is too much.

Christmas Aftermath and Unabashed Silliness

I repeat the start of yesterday, rising before the sun and sitting alone in the living room watching the lights on the tree.  But this morning, I reflect on Christmas yesterday.  The remnants of wrapping paper remain on the floor.  I have yet to turn on the news to see if world peace was achieved.

Instead, I think about the crazy toys we picked out for my nephews, 18 and 19 years old.  We got funny whistles that play when they are turned over and the whistle slides through a tube.  I laugh as I recall my nephews trying to synchronize their whistles to play a chord.

We also got them a Pokey and a Gumby–I was pleased when each took a few moments to contort them into ridiculous poses.  But my favorite was when they opened the cheap mustache kits and each adhered a fake mustache to their faces.  The oldest resembled Charlie Chaplin with the thick, squarish mustache he picked out and the youngest looked like a silent movie villain with the skinny mustache he tried on.

While we did get them each a gift they wanted in addition to these silly finds, I suspect it will be these toys they remember with a smile when they tell their kids about the Christmases they had.

I grow serious for a moment and do a mental check on how I did with judging.  I am pleased that I noticed every time I was judgmental.  I think about what triggered a judgmental response and recognize that I am guilty of the things I judge the most harshly.  I am reminded of a friend of mine who told me he was a horrible gay basher until he came out of the closet.  As if we somehow distance ourselves from our own guilt by harshly condemning others for what we want most to hide about ourselves.  Hypocrisy is not my friend.

I wonder for a moment if “coming out of the closet” about my own secrets would somehow free me from this tendency to judge.  But I recall that my friend did not leave his judgments behind by revealing his sexual orientation; rather he changed sides on who he thought was right and wrong.  Perhaps he was ashamed of having been cruel.

Rather than follow in my friend’s footsteps, then, I decide I will simply stay with noticing when I am judging and letting it go.  This was quite effective yesterday.  Instead of getting worked up and angry, I simply noticed I was judging and moved on.  It may have been my most peaceful (and silly) Christmas yet.

I’m happy with my progress even if it wasn’t perfect.  I was freed to focus on creating silliness in the here and now instead of talking about (and getting upset about) things in the past or things imagined.

I decide I need to amend my wish for this holiday season:  peace, love, joy, and unabashed silliness.

All I Want for Christmas is World Peace

I would very much like to think of myself as a non-judgmental person.  But then I catch myself saying something like, “that crazy person is so judgmental–s/he thinks s/he is better than everyone else” and realize this is a lesson I’ve yet to master.

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.  Mother Theresa

Judgment riles me up, makes me feel righteous, justified, and even vengeful.  It separates me into the “right” and leaves those I judge in the “wrong.”  Having cast judgment, there is no need to listen or consider; all that can follow are proclamations.

Why do I judge?  There are practical reasons to make judgments.  For example, I choose to spell “judgment” with the standard American spelling instead of “judgement,” the standard British spelling.  Which is preferable?

In my case, this simple choice hides a deeper judgment.  I spell it “judgment” because I was taught that Americans who spell it “judgement” are ignorant.  If someone were to comment that I misspelled “judgment,” I could point them to a dictionary and explain that this is the correct American spelling.  I would be left feeling redeemed and, if I am painfully honest, even superior.

What I would not feel is connected to my fellow human being, negotiating the world together in harmony.

Love is the absence of judgment.  The Dalai Lama

What would I lose in giving up my judgments?  Clearly, my judgments benefit me in some way or I wouldn’t make them.  Would I be less smart if I never judged someone else to be stupid?  Would I be less hard working if I never judged anyone else to be lazy?  Would I be less competent if I never judged someone else to be incompetent?  Or do I make these judgments out of fear that I am what I judge?  Is pointing at someone else and calling them names a way of separating myself from what I don’t want to be?

I would hate to be discounted because I made a mistake.  What I would like is to be accepted for a flawed human being with the best of intentions.  What I need is to be heard and understood without being called good or bad.

 The moment that judgment stops through acceptance of what it is, you are free of the mind.  You have made room for love, for joy, for peace.  Eckhart Tolle

And that, dear reader, is what I want for Christmas:  love, joy, and peace.  I arm myself with the awareness that I judge.  I prepare myself to notice when I am judging.  I know that with attention, I can create more space for love, joy, and peace.  And in this gift to myself, I hope I can contribute just a little to a gift to the world:

World peace must develop from inner peace.  Peace is not the absence of violence.  Peace is the manifestation of human compassion.  The Dalai Lama