Yes or No to New Year’s Resolutions?

It’s again the jolly time of the year. The time when we take a step back, enjoy the Christmas joy and reflect on everything around us. Hopefully we all take a moment to be grateful for the wonderful people around us – those who crossed our path year, those who inspired us and those who taught us  a lesson. Another moment to reflect on what we have achieved, the goals we met and all the skills we developed.

It’s all in the mind, whether you decide to look positively at all the great things last year has brought, or focus on the things you failed at. It’s not just a pessimist/optimist battle, but more about how deep you dig in yourself and how aware you are of what each scar signifies.

Each year, we hear around “I will start exercising from January” or “I will try that new diet from Monday”, but how many of us actually keep up with these promises? Why start in January or next week, when we can start today? So many of our promises to ourselves involve radical changes, which are difficult to maintain in the long run. Why not try with small steps, celebrating each improvement and being realistic with our goals?

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I have to admit it, I am making new year’s resolutions every year. I think it is useful to reflect on what you want to achieve, and check them up a couple of times per year. I don’t assume they will come true on January 1st. Changing one’s lifestyle is a continuous process, and I believe that it is important to focus on real, needed and sustainable changes. Losing 3 kg to fit in a dress at a wedding next month is a small and not so sustainable goal. Sure, it’s possible, but it doesn’t bring longtime happiness (except feeling good about the great pictures in that dress).

I prefer goals related to cooking more healthy meals and eating out less. This doesn’t mean I will never eat a pizza again. This means that I am aware that I could make some improvements in this department, and I will try my best in the future. I also had a goal of being able to do Scorpion pose last year. It didn’t happen yet, but it’s not the end of the world. Everything is a journey, and as long as we’re moving forward, things will be fine. One day, I will get there. And if not, I will still benefit from other things I learn on my way.

Next to saving more money or changing the car, inner resolutions are something we should look more into. They are some sort of reality-check, showing us how we perceive ourselves and whom we would like to become. It’s not easy, and it can be discouraging for some, but they are needed in order to understand ourselves better. We can say “I will be more patient”, but if we don’t understand what makes us lose our patience in the first place, what is the point?

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How to understand yourself better?

Often, new year’s resolutions are related to things we wished we did or skills we wished we had. We tend to like and admire in others the qualities we desire for ourselves. Think about what you admire the most in your significant other, or in your closest friends. Is it that they are very detailed-oriented, or great at presentation skills? Maybe a friend always knows exactly the best thing to say in a difficult situation, or one is very fast at making decisions.

The next step is understanding that we cannot all be the same, and we cannot all be great at the same things. Yes, many things can be trained, and you have big chances of improving by asking advice from those who master it and then practicing. However, don’t be discouraged if you will not be the best at all those things, since it’s not humanly possible to excel in everything.

Try to focus on your strengths. They are what make you special. Those are the things you do with ease, and those others admire you for. Maybe you are great at organizing or you speak 4 foreign languages. Well, instead of focusing on what else you can learn, think about how to develop those skills even further, develop a career or a hobby out of them, or help others. This will bring you more satisfaction and self-confidence.

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Best Tricks for Keeping your Resolutions

Be yourself when stating your resolutions! There are common things people wish for, since we are programmed by sociecty to believe this is what we have to do. Even if everybody is aiming to set more aside in their pension account, maybe it’s not what would make you the happiest at this point in your life. Yes, of course it’s useful and needed. But if it’s the last year you can timewise afford to travel the world and discover new cultures, why not starting saving next year? Your reality is different than others’, so set resolutions that fit what you want to do with your life.

Create mini-goals. It is difficult to achieve major changes on the spot, so make sure to split your goals into smaller, achievable ones, that would make you see the progress. Keep track of them and reward yourself everytime a step forward is made.

Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s unrealistic to believe that all your new year resolutions will come true. You will definitely make improvements in the areas you want to, but, like mentioned above, it is a continuous process. Be happy and grateful for what you managed to achieve. And if you fail,  at least you have learned a lot in the process and will take it forward in the future.

Would You Rent a Friend?

It seems like nowadays we are too busy being alone with our gadgets, that we forgot how to ‘friend’ anymore. It started with the Tinder-revolution, since apparently it got more and more difficult to meet people the old traditional ways. However, now we are applying this to friends, really?

What happens to our generation, that we cannot interact with those around us? People have been happy and social for centuries, without Facebook or thousands of interactive apps that make them forget how to look each other in the eye. We go through life burried in screens – smartphone, laptop, tablet or TV…If this is not an alarm-signal, what is?

Friends_and_gadgetsI came across today by the website Rentafriend.com. Pretty genius, some would say. I still fail to see this though – it feels more like tragic to me. The website offers you the option to rent somebody to be your prom date, go with you to gym or to family events, to be your wingman/wingwoman or just hang out with you. A world of opportunities, and they propose you available friends in your region.

This feels worse than Tinder – at least there, you get to interact with somebody, and if you discover things in common, they might date you. For free though!

There are two questions that come to my mind in the first second:

  1. We really have no one in our circle of friends, co-workers, family at least that could be our friend or accompany us to these events?
  2. Is it better to go with someone you rent than to go alone?

First of all – how do we end up alone? I cannot imagine that I couldn’t find anyone around me that would like to hang out with me. Nobody to interact with? May it be because I’ve been spending my days trapped inside my home, swapping TV channels and feeling bored? What about going out for a drink, and maybe meeting somebody? What about trying the public library and maybe run into somebody with similar interest? What about trying a gathering place (a party, a backpackers club, couchsurfing, any place where people meet each other)?

Oh, is that scary? Or is it that I really cannot meet anybody I find interesting? Gosh, what can be the reason for that? Maybe I am looking for somebody who has blue eyes, lives in my neighbourhood and loves Minecraft? Well, then maybe rentafriend.com is the best place for me.

It seems like some of us have become so picky with our relationships and so much risk-adverse, that computerized match-making seems the only option. Isn’t it awesome to get to pick a friend I know I would like? Who need to be adaptable, understanding or…make compromises? What is that? Why would I do something I don’t like for somebody else? Isn’t it easier to just pick online somebody who wants to do what I want? Oh, shoud I pay for that? Sure, why not! At least I don’t risk being rejected. At least I know what I’m getting into and I get to choose what we do. They will like me anyway, I made sure of it by throwing out some bucks. Great!

aloneandonlineSarcasm aside, we really need to stop and reflect on our actions and the turn this society is taking. We are becoming so afraid of face-to-face communication – is it maybe because we don’t know how it works anymore? An interesting article discussed the implications of sceen-time on the way we communicate. Of course, writing to somebody is easier that actually meeting them. Expressing our emotions via a screen or a emoticon makes everything easier – we don’t even need to clearly articulate our feelings – there are yellow little things that transmit this information for us. The more time people spend interacting through digital channels, the lesser affection they attach to that relationship.

We need personal touch, and we need relationships around us to be happy and fulfilled. Therefore, we cannot get our share of human contact from texts alone. But we are so used to this avoidant type of communication, that it might be tricky to actually hold a face-to-face, live conversation. In this case, I cannot just close a chat window when a disagreement appears. I am next to a person that deserves my attention and respect. The importance of these things is much smaller or less noticed in the virtual world. But strong, real relationships need these ingredients to function properly. And we seem to be on the path of forgetting about their importance.

Friendship takes effort. And part of being a friend is strongly related to understanding another human being, being there for them, making oneself likeable and express emotions to somebody who cares. These aspects are altered, if not innexistent, when you decide to rent a friend. What are you truly getting out of that?

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This leads me to the second aspect I mentioned earlier. I may decide to rent a friend, due to the fact that I am afraid of going somewhere alone. But why is that?

Is it the society dictating me that I cannot go to a restaurant alone? Why do I always need a date? When into a restaurant, I sometimes look around to discover how many of the customers are on their phone. Doing that is more acceptable when they are alone – but when they are with their friends, what is the explanation?

An article from 2014 shows a message from a restaurant to its clients, asking them to be more considerate with their time. They claim the average consumer spends 50 more minutes now in the restaurant than they did in 2004, and they blame it on smartphone use. Pictures, WiFi issues and other distractions are increasing the time they waste in the restaurant, therefore causing longer delays for other consumers and for the waiters.

Why am I going to restaurants? To avoid cooking and washing dishes, this is definitely on the top of my list! However, if I go there with a friend, I want to enjoy his/her company, spend quality time, without needing to worry about the heat of the sauce or bringing the dessert in time. It’s just our time, somebody else serves us the food, so I can finally spend precious time with those I care about.

What happens when I decide that whatever happens on Facebook is more important than the person I am with? Do I really need to show the world what we are eating? Where we are, whom we are with…why is that?

More to this, spending more time looking in a screen than in the others’ eyes…Is it lack of respect, sign of addiction or just habit? Habit of ‘multi-tasking’, of checking news and cleaning the house while chatting on messenger with a friend. We can do all that simultaneously, it’s not like we are missing any part of the conversation. We are still there, right? Who says it needs to be 100%?

If we are not willing to invest undivided attention to the person we are sharing our meal with (this is just an example, it can be theater show, bowling or wedding), then why can’t we just go alone in the first place? If we don’t care enough about our friends to maintain a healthy friendship, which would increases the chances of them joining us for free…then why do we pay to have somebody accompany us?

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Renting a friend awakens very strong emotions inside me, since it’s a stronger sign of how bad we’re having it. More development, more gadgets, cooler apps and more time spent in front of a screen. Is this what we want our life to be?

Autumn and gratitude

End of October always brings the most beautiful autumn days. It’s still warm enough to enjoy long walks in the park, and the last sunny days offer a wonderful view on the fallen leaves. For me, autumn is the season of reflection and inner journeys.autumn on its wayAutumn is associated with melancholy. I would put much more positive on what autumn makes me feel, as it’s the time to take a step back, reflect on everything, from the adventurous summer to all that was learned this year. Winter is coming, Christmas and a whole new year, which means new beginnings and hope.

The fallen leaves in autumn are a sign of the end of a cycle. But it is not something negative. We all know they will be alright. Seasons change, nature goes to sleep, but there’s nothing sad about that. Everyone knows that once spring comes, everything will blossom again. And this is the miracle of life.

Take this lesson from autumn and bring it into your present. Nothing lasts forever, not the grey days and not the strong winds. Even when you’re down, overwhelmed by storms or snow, the belief in the warmth of that very first ray of sun keeps you going.

On this same page, I dreamt last week about a grey chimpanzee that told me:

“Don’t worry, as long as our hearts are beating, everything is going to be alright.”

WisechimpanzeeI was told this is a pretty wise chimpanzee, and my dreams are strangely insightful. But the bottom line is that we are all going to make it. It sounds cliché, believe me, I know it. But I also know that after the rain comes good weather, like in a book I used to read regularly when I was young (“Après la pluie, le beau temps”, Comtesse de Ségur)

One important lesson yoga taught me is gratitude. People tend to get stuck in their problems, fear or routines, and forget to be grateful about everything that they have. This is, in my opinion, one of the biggest issues of our society. We are programmed to be in the search of the perfect life, with a happy family, a good career, enough money for all the comfort we can imagine, and, on top of everything, exciting adventures everyday. What happened with simplicity? What happened with the beauty of holding somebody’s hand? What happened with feeling grateful for small things, such as being healthy?

I once read an interesting article, stating that people rarely think about health, unless it is in danger. We do not notice how well things are going for us, unless we start feeling bad – that is when health becomes important. What if we tried a small change of perspective? Stopping sometimes to think how nice this day is, because we are full of energy, capable of carrying out with our daily tasks? We have food on our table, and a shelter on our head. These ‘basic needs’ Maslow would say are so often taken for granted. But they offer our support system, and we should really appreciate what we have. These are small sources of happiness, and acknowledging them would improve our quality of life.

Are you upset you cannot afford eating fish twice a week, and you don’t often have time to prepare pancakes for breakfast? What about imagining for a second eating just bread with butter every day? Terrible, no? This lack of variety. Unimaginable. What about imagining eating a piece of bread once in a day? … Are you happy with your life already?

Autumn is the season of reflection. Reflect on who you are. On what makes you happy and what makes you sad. If it makes you sad, have you stopped and tried to understand why you are sad? What makes you tick? Go deeper into your inner world, do it today, and try to know yourself better. And then be happy for the opportunity we have to do this inner journey. Cause it’s one of the miracles of being human.