A close friend of mine has an interesting way to take on each new year. Annually, on her birthday, she chooses a theme for the year.
No, it's not like choosing a prom theme by picking a popular song. It's hard enough to decorate a high school gym like "Against All Odds," let alone live your life that way. But I'm not ruling that out.
My friend looks inward and thinks about what she wants to achieve during the year, what is important to her at that point in her life, what qualities she wants to work on or possess.
She uses it to guide actions and choices during that year. She has had themes such as the Year of Decision and the Year of Letting Go. You get the idea.
She happens to be one of the most grounded, focused and truly good people I know, so I decided there must be something to this.
A theme for the new Linda Year. I like it. Since my birthday and the start of the new year are within days of each other, the media was full of ways to make your life better with a fresh start, a new attitude, a new resolve. So, for reference, I asked my research assistant to look into the top new year's resolutions, life themes and just for fun, songs to live by to help me find my theme.
My research assistant - we shall call him Google - is a little quirky and kind of misses the point sometimes, so I had to sift through the results a bit. I got completely sidetracked by recipes one blogger wanted to conquer this year and a collection of the year's best cute dogs photos. Put The Year of Staying Focused on the list of contenders.
Moving forward, I found collections of resolutions and instructions on how to fix my life. Who knew I could live a happier, more fulfilled life with just 10 simple steps?
The resolutions seemed either flighty and shortsighted or huge and daunting. That's the problems with resolution follow through. It's hard to break it into real, achievable pieces, so it becomes more of a Do and Don't List. While I respect the perpetual To-Do List, a To-Don't List seems a bit restrictive and oppressive. Eliminate The Year of Resolutions for the possible theme.
Some of the suggestions for determining a life theme got a little too mystical hoo-ha for my taste. I stumbled upon several sites that incorporated rainbows and hot air balloons in their graphics. There may have even been a unicorn in one of the baskets.
Since I didn't really have the time to take the full inner discovery journey to allow myself to "know yourself and grow yourself," I merely scanned the 90 Intuitive Choices For Personal Development and Answers List. Add The Year of Not Filling My Head With Junk to the list.
In sifting through all the ways others want to change, improve, stop, start and be, something became clear. We are a people who want, a population that isn't content with the status quo. We look at the people around us, the images in the media, and we want.
We all have things we need to do to move our lives forward - things we want to do to make ourselves happy, stuff we want to acquire. But in comparing ourselves to others, we can end up feeling lacking. It makes us focus on what we don't have, what we haven't achieved, what hasn't happened in our lives.
Is it possible to recognize what we want to do, where we want our lives to go, while appreciating where we are now and what we already have? While reading the lists of top resolutions, I found that I am grateful I am healthy; that I don't have to quit smoking or learn to eat healthy or start exercising. I am thankful that I have solid relationships with family and friends, that I have a good job, enough money to live on and a roof over my head.
Goals and bucket lists can guide our lives, but to stop and be thankful for what is already there seems like a healthier, more positive way to live. My theme emerged: the Year of Gratitude.
Linda Stamper Boyne, of Edwards, can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org