New year's resolutions suck. I can never remember the myriad ones I end up making and, when I eventually do remember what mine were (around June, usually) and realize that I haven't kept them, I feel guilty and failure-y. Last year, instead of making meaningless resolutions that will make me beat myself up and feel bad, I decided to pick a virtue to focus on throughout the year. That way, I'd still be improving myself, learning about myself, and helping improve the lives of others. Plus, it's a lot easier to remember a virtue than it is to remember a specific and usually unattainable goal.
2012's virtue was kindness and, originally, I meant to choose this virtue to remind myself to be more kind to others. Little did I know how far-reaching this wonderful virtue would be. Of course, I wasn't kind to everyone the whole year, and I didn't always remember that I was supposed to be focusing on kindness, but it gave me a surprising amount of clarity. Now when I make decisions, I keep kindness in mind: "Is this going to benefit me? Will it benefit whoever's on the other end?". At work, writing emails to shitty clients, I sometimes ask myself, "what's going on for this client? Are they strapped for cash? Could that be why their email is rude?". This doesn't always happen, because I'm not a saint. But it's helped me become a more compassionate person, and it's something that I'll always keep in mind because I've focused on it so much over the last year.
I've also started to see that I'm often not as kind to myself as I should be. This is not an extension of the virtue that I predicted, but it's something that's been very important over the last year. I used to be on the executive of my choir, but after choosing kindness as 2012's virtue, I decided to free myself of that obligation so that I could focus on other hobbies that I find more fulfilling. There were many times over the past year that I've had to say "no" to obligations in order to be kind to myself. I get panicked, overwhelmed, and my immune system suffers if I don't have adequate time to be creative, or exercise, or be alone, or be in nature, or be with my family and friends.
I know you're just dying to know what my virtue for 2013 is. I'm choosing to focus on gratitude this year. There are so many things that I have to be grateful for that have happened over the past year and I can't wait to see how this virtue morphs and what parts of my life I can apply it to.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
― Thornton Wilder
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine
jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
William Arthur Ward
"This being human is a guest-house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meaness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house,
empty it of its furniture.
Still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you
out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond."
Here's to a beautiful, healthy, abundant, and joyful 2013!