I've written a long list of what I want 'to do' this year.
- Drink more water.
- Write more of my own work.
- Get the kids on a chore schedule.
- Lose 8 pounds.
- Cook more homemade meals.
- Read more.
The list goes on, and I suppose the reality is that the list (like everything else) never ends. It's like an infinity pool with endless laps going nowhere.
But I'm not all doom-and-gloom about resolutions, goals and vision. I think it's human to want better. I think it's natural to want more. I think it's possible to appreciate and value the moment while also thinking toward the future and pondering the past. I don't think any of that is mutually exclusive. I realize this is a renegade opinion; I'm fine with that.
So, how do I reconcile all of this when it comes to the new year, another 365 days to pursue passions, spend time what my people and try to do better?
I came across two quotes this week that sum up for me what I want out of this year. They're both by Mahatma Gandhi:
“Keep your words positive, because your words become your behaviours.
Keep your behaviours positive, because your behaviours become your habits.
Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.”
“To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.”
Both of the quotes speak, for me, to the same thing: that we must live positive values and through so doing, we find a sense of peace otherwise impossible to attain.
At the age of 42, I realize finally that we all have different values. I learned this lesson in China, 18 years ago, when I tried to pass along my American values to my Chinese students and realized (with some trepidation) that my values weren't necessarily 'right' for the rest of the world. I'm not being glib when I say that was surprising (shocking) for a 24-year-old Texas girl who was raised with clear-cut ideas on what is right and wrong.
Nearly twenty years later, I realize the importance of focusing on myself, my behavior and my own values rather than expending energy trying to persuade others to adopt my beliefs and live in line with my thinking. What matters is that I live a life in line with my values, and when I do that, I don't worry quite so much about anyone else.
This all speaks, then, to the fact that in some ways, I do not live a life in line with my values.
That's a difficult thing to admit and then to change. But I truly believe (see, I've got values) that a life in line with one's values is the only path to personal peace.
What, then, are my values?
Ugh, this could go on for a long time, but I'll simply list the Top 5:
1. Hard Work and Trying My Absolute Best
2. People Matter More Than Things
3. Integrity, Integrity, Integrity
4. Be Grateful; Life is a Gift
5. Do All Things in Love
Everything else I want or believe or hold dear to my heart falls into these categories. And if I listen to these values and apply them to everything else I want to do, I think not only would the outcome be better, but the whole journey would be so much more pleasant.
Imagine taking care of our bodies not because we're upset about our weight but because we love our bodies and are grateful for the gift of having them. Eating well, getting outside, sleeping well and exercising are all ways to honor this gift, and doing all of that in love makes it not about punishing ourselves, depriving ourselves or beating ourselves up but instead about honoring the gifts we've been given.
The fact is: I can work harder and try harder to be my best. I can be more grateful and complain less, valuing the gifts I've been given and honoring those gifts rather than picking them apart. I can spend more time with people and less time with things. I can be more patient, loving, kind and thoughtful. I can certainly live with more integrity, which falls in line with working harder, complaining less and doing the right thing when nobody is looking (shockingly, I sometimes do the wrong thing). Perhaps most of all, I can do all things in love. At the end of the day, there are chores, jobs and errands I have to do; they're part of my job. The choice I get is my attitude and how exactly I go about doing them. Doing them in love is so much better for my own soul....let alone everyone else involved.
This year, this brand new 2018, isn't a time to whittle away saddlebags or stick to a new fad diet or give every last item I own to charity or force my kids to tow-the-line.
2018 is just another chance for me to live a year of positive values, with positive behavior and positive thoughts and gratitude and grace and above all else....a little big of magic and mercy.
All of this is what I believe, and to fail to live it would be dishonest.
So 2018 will be a year of moving toward a life that is no longer two-tracks. There isn't one track with my values and one track with my behavior. The roads must converge.
With every item on our to-do list, with every goal or desired outcome or newly formed habit, perhaps we need simply to ask: does this fall in line with my values? Does this speak to what matters most?
What are your values?
Is your current life and way of life a reflection of living those values?
Are you living two paths...or one?
I'm off now to slather myself in sunscreen, dig out my snow clothes and have a snowball fight with my kids in our fresh 4 inches of southern snow.
Happy Snow Day!