Your most important resolution might be to remember that you have no guarantee that you’ll have another whole calendar year in you.
What’s the first thing we do at the end of the year? We make resolutions for the new year about things we intend to do better, like an extreme makeover. It’s a nice tradition but ….. here comes the killjoy… if we really really want to love our lives, this works a little bit against us.
Rethinking the New Year, all year…
We’ve just got so many calendar dates that we schedule our gratitude into. One day to celebrate our mothers and one to celebrate our fathers. We’ve got one day to send hearts and candy to our favorite romantic people and one day to remember those who died in service to our country. One day for remembering that someone we love was born and became part of our life. One day that we come together to be grateful (mostly for a lot of food and company). One day (New Years) to pretend that our lives can be neatly divided into ‘past’ and ‘present’.
But mostly we lump along in our everyday lives until one of the Important National Holidays come along and then we look up and remember. We remember something we probably should have been remembering well every day.
Celebrating your Mortality
The dying know this. They have been so distilled into who they are as a human with a very loud, very personal clock ticking, that much of the calendar conditioning just drops away. In all my years working in hospice and grief, that is part of the biggest gift I’ve ever been given – watching people living NOW.
So here’s my pitch for celebrating your mortality: Your most important resolution might be to remember that you have no guarantee that you’ll have another whole calendar year in you. You have no time to wait to be uproariously grateful for what you have, or to voraciously follow anything you feel passion or glee for right now. This is the joy that is on the other side of fear. It doesn’t matter whether you complete your resolution; it matters that you’re living in it every day. I personally think it’s a balance of gratitude and curiosity that is the best part of being alive. And it’s the practice of trying to pay attention every day that makes it work. If you really promise yourself to keep trying it, you won’t have a massive pile of regrets when your calendar winds down, and best of all, you’ll find yourself getting a lot more happiness out of every day.