Resolutions, Revisited

Last year, for the first time, I made New Years’ resolutions. They were three. The first was to sit up taller. The second was to give more sincere compliments. The third was to talk less about whatever the last thing I read was. Later on, I added a fourth, which was to get more into my hips—mainly for climbing and yoga, but also so that the next time “Hips Don’t Lie” comes on in the club I won’t feel that my hips, honest or not, are betraying me.

They say that New Years resolutions should be precise and actionable, not the sort of vague hope for more or less of something that I set for myself. That’s probably true. I didn’t keep track of my compliments in a spreadsheet, nor did I measure the average angle between by back and the back of each chair. But what I was looking for wasn’t measurable results, but a bit more consciousness. I’ll explain why and whether I got it.

I wanted to sit up taller because I slouch. But more than that, I wanted to sit up taller because I wanted to force myself to pay attention to my body jut a little bit more, to become conscious of it, to remind myself that it’s there even when I get lost in the world that is my own head. And it’s a pretty wild world. 

I wanted to give more compliments because I don’t give very many. I don’t tell people what I like about them enough, and I never tell them that I think they look particularly good. But people like hearing that—I like hearing it—especially when it’s true. But like sitting taller, giving compliments is about disposition. I want to notice more about people because I want to notice the world. Again, I want to get outside the world that’s in my head and be in the world as it is. 

Finally, books. I have an annoying habit of referring to other things rather than saying something new. I don’t usually contribute my thoughts to discussions—I’m too much of a chastened skeptic to think that my opinions particularly matter. But what I do is I cite, endlessly, articles and books and opinion by others, whether I support them or actually introduce them because I think they’ll be fun to make fun of. Living life as a bibliography, however, is just as bad as never getting out of your head. I needed to stop—and, I’m sure, no one I’m friends with necessarily wanted to hear that much about whatever had crossed my desk.

How did I do on these dispositional resolutions? It was mixed. Given some of the events in my life recently, I spend more time focusing on my mantras than my resolutions. But they were always there, telling me to pay more attention and to be more present. And, as I formulate resolutions for the coming year, I will keep both these resolutions and their lessons in view. Because without reflection, we cannot fulfill that greatest of commandments: ἐπιμέλεσθαι σεαυτόν, care for the self!

Oh, and can I dance to Shakira now? Only one way for you to find out...


© Henry Gruber 2013