People are starting to talk New Year’s Resolutions.
I actually tend to make “resolutions,” if you want to call them that, all year round. I love the idea that every day is a new day, a fresh start. To quote/paraphrase Anne (of Green Gables), “tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.”
I love ideas like this that call for pause and self-reflection. I feel like when we realistically check in with ourselves often, we’re a lot more likely to find ourselves in the place we want to be. Granted, that doesn’t mean I don’t have gushy, whiney, dramatic phone conversations with my ever-patient, ever-willing-to-calmly-listen-to-me mother on a regular basis, but since I’ve adopted this philosophy, I’ve found that I’m able to be more calm, more patient, and more present. I still have marathons of miles left to go, but progress is so very encouraging, don’t you find?
2010 has been a really momentous year for us. We’ve faced some significant life changes and challenges, and yet at the end of it all, I find myself a stronger, happier person than when the year started. Again, I have a long way to go before I’m truly the person I hope I “grow up” to be, but I feel like I’ve really grown this year.
So while I’m thinking about it, I thought I’d share a few books I’ve read and ideas I’ve heard about this year that really got me thinking about different aspects of my life. Some of them have really impacted me and moved me to change, others have simply gotten me thinking differently about some things. If you’re looking for some good reads to send you into 2011, here are some I’d recommend.
The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
As the title implies, this book follows one person’s quest for happiness. The author is pleasant and upbeat. She wrote the book not during any particular crisis, but more as a means of strengthening herself, her marriage, and her family to improve their day-to-day lives and to prepare them to deal with challenges when they arise. She tackles things from de-cluttering and tackling nagging tasks, to listening and creating a loving home atmosphere. I loved the methods she uses and have tried several of her approaches myself. I’ve read it cover-to-cover twice and loved it both times. Gretchen also keeps a blog, if you want to check her out first.
Food Matters, by Mark Bittman and Food Rules, by Michael Pollan
I love both of these authors. Both books talk about a realistic, sensible approach to cooking, eating, and buying foods. Bittman delves a bit more into the politics of food, but I found even that to be very interesting. Nothing was too very different from how I’ve been eating as a family, but I definitely wanted to make a few changes after reading the books. I’ve read just about everything Michael Pollan has written, and I found the Food Rules book to be my favorite yet. My favorite take-away from the books was his over-arching philosophy to “Eat Food. Mostly Plants. Not too much.” I read the book in about 2 hours, and LOVED it. The simplicity and straight-forwardness of his points made so much sense and wasn’t radical or over-the-top. Great reads to get you thinking about the way you eat and prepare food for your family.
Other ideas to get you thinking:
101 Things to Do in 1001 Days
Okay, so it’s not a book, but we’re on our second list and really sitting down and thinking about what you want to do, experience, and accomplish in a setting like this really seems to help Michael and I make things happen for ourselves. If you haven’t thought about doing something like this, I’d recommend at least giving it a go. My friend Anna has made a 50 in 500 list, and you could certainly adapt it to what works for you.
I’ve seen this in several places, but a few people I know will choose a word that represents an area of their life they want to work on. I’ve seen the words “peace,” “simplify,” “focus,” and others used. Over the course of the year, you apply your word to different areas you want to work on or goals you want to accomplish. With the word “focus” you could focus on enjoying the moment, focus on your spouse, focus on your attitude, or focus on listening completely when talking with your children. For “simplify,” you could work on simplifying your weekly meal-planning or budget, making your annual appointments (check-ups, eye exams, etc) more streamlined, simplifying your belongings by getting rid of or donating things, etc. I like this idea a lot and I find that a single word can also act as a mantra when you need to take a deep breath.
11 Things you Do (or Don’t) Need in Your Life in 2011:
I saw this idea on twitter, but basically you compile a list of 11 things you need or 11 things you don’t need in your life in 2011. Things like “evening walks with my husband,” “morning and night prayer,” or “more whole foods” could go on a do-need list. Things like “negative self-talk,” “five trips a week to the grocery store,” or “bad movies” could go on your don’t-need list. I just liked the idea of opening or closing your life to certain things to help next year be better.
Anyway, all these books and ideas are just those I find interesting and that got me thinking.
What are your New Year’s plans?