It is that time of year again, the most wonderful time, when we brave the trenches of consumerism and spar for the parking spot closest to the store door all in the hopes of finding the perfect gifts for the people we love, and the ones we tolerate. If you are anything like me, you pour hours into planning, baking, decorating, and wrapping just to make the Christmas season the best time of the year for your family. This dedication to manufacturing the perfect holiday often leaves us drained both mentally and physically. It is not until after the gifts have been unwrapped and we are sweeping the cookie crumbs from the kitchen floor in our flannel pajamas that we realize how much the season has taken out of us.
We then begin looking toward New Year’s Day with plans for bettering ourselves, with an emphasis on our physical appearance. We buy new sneakers to don the gym where we just purchased a membership because we will need them when we mount the treadmill. We focus on gathering healthy recipes that we will use for meal prepping and we will pack them away in the new bento boxes we acquired from Amazon after consuming too much wine at a holiday party.
By February first most of us will have abandoned our newly found health habits for the convenience of our old ways. We will conjure a hundred excuses for our failure, everything stemming from injury to a lack of time, and our internal monologues will continually remind us that it is a cop-out.
We fail, not because we are incapable of seeing it through but because we lack the mental strength to persevere. The demand of everyday life combined with the added stress of learning a new routine will shake our faith, not only in our ability to meet our goals but also in ourselves. The contemptuous glares and odious social media posts from the regular gym goers complaining about their space being invaded will serve to intensify that mental burden.
Our hopes of bettering ourselves physically as well as mentally will be diminished when we realize it is easier to maintain our unhealthy lifestyles than it is to make a conscious effort to change our habits. We realize that society, with its fast-food chains and the rising cost of living, is structured to prevent the average American from succeeding, no matter what their goals. Today’s society pits us against each other, encouraging us to pick each other apart based on perceived faults because we buy into the community’s definition of perfect when in actuality, perfect doesn’t exist.
This year, my resolution is to make a conscious effort to look beyond those faults. I no longer want to make assumptions about the people I encounter every day based on what society’s standards tell me I should think. I want to understand that the people I see day in, and day out are all dealing with their own struggles, just like I am. I want to remind myself that the people I see are doing what they can to continue with their lives in the face of loss and struggle, like me, they are just doing their best to survive. And I want to remind myself to be kind, even when it feels impossible.
The actions of others can trigger us, making us respond in different ways, often negatively. But what we fail to realize is the motivation behind our action when that button is pressed. Once we come to terms with the reason those things bother us, we can work through them and can prevent that situation from being a trigger in the future.
This year, I’m going to make a valiant effort to see situations for what they truly are, and I’ll do that by helping that person struggling at the gym, by being open-minded when I meet new people, and by examining situations from all angles so that I am able to make rational, informed decisions. I will not argue with my neighbors, I will welcome open dialogue and I will respect their beliefs, even when they do not align with my own. Because everyone has a right to live how they choose. By focusing on these things, I can not only improve myself but also my relationships with those around me. I will be better prepared to take on other challenges as life progresses, even the physical ones. This year, instead of placing emphasis on my physical appearance I will be working on the most important parts of myself. I hope you will do the same.