The Start of a Resolution

December 30, 2015

I’ve never been one for resolutions, mostly because I’ve never been one to keep them. But for 2016, having missed the boat for the start of 5776, I decided to give the resolution thing another try.

Resolutions are about change, about pausing to steer our mindset and our behavior in a new direction. They are not about altering our personality, which would be impossible, or taking on something so unrealistic that we set ourselves up for failure. My previous attempts at sticking to them tanked for this reason exactly – well, that and the fact that my heart wasn’t in the enterprise from the outset.

This time, I’m going to tackle it another way.

I devoted a lot of energy in 2015 to decluttering our house, a daunting campaign to rid ourselves of the stuff that weighed us down. Our home now feels lighter, and I know I got there only because I cut the project into little tasks that I then accomplished one at a time. I’m thinking that by applying that same approach to a resolution, I stand a far better chance of success.

But which resolution should I start with and how should I divide it into smaller, manageable pieces?

Life, as it does, soon pointed me in the right direction, because when you’re looking, the blessings are often right in front of you. I attended a lecture about giving thanks, and within days stumbled upon numerous articles covering the same theme. The importance of appreciation – feeling it, expressing it, letting it warm and fill us until it alters our worldview and our approach to daily life – wasn’t a new concept, though the reminder was exactly what I needed.

One thing I read deeply moved me. Though a generic thanks is nice, a specific one is better. Essentially, this: Break gratitude down into parts. Express appreciation individually – to G-d, spouse, children, extended family, friends, and other people we know, as well as total strangers, like the ones who offer an unsolicited kindness when we’re having a rough moment. And say exactly what we’re grateful for, noting both the sublime and the everyday, from the splendor of spring-in-December weather to the fact that my boys put 80s music on my iPhone.

Armed with a plan, I picked up a notebook that I won’t call a gratitude journal for fear it will jinx me before I get started. But I hope, come January 1, to start each day by jotting down one thing, maybe two, that I’m grateful for. I know there will be times when it will be hard to see the forest for the trees. Still, this is a resolution I think I can own. After all, there’s so much to be thankful for once we decide to take notice.