Looking into a Different Mirror in 2019

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Photo by hannah grace (@oddityandgrace )

While I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, I like the idea of resolving, this year, to change the story we tell ourselves about ourselves.

One of the most relaxing parts of my winter break were the hours I spent curled up with The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss, the most-recommended fantasy fiction book by all of you.

At the end of the book, I found a pearl of wisdom spoken by a minor character named Bast:

Everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.

Bast then goes on to illustrate about how the story we tell ourselves can change (I choose to read this excerpt with the implied broad sense of “beauty,” and even so wish the example were a different one):

If you tell [a shy girl you love] she’s beautiful, she’ll think you’re sweet, but she won’t believe you. She knows that beauty lies in your beholding…But [you can] show her she is beautiful. You make mirrors of your eyes, prayers of your hands…It is hard, very hard, but when she truly believes you…Suddenly the story she tells herself in her own head changes. She transforms. She isn’t seen as beautiful. She is beautiful, seen.

So often we cling fiercely to limitations that are far past their expiration date.

We can resolve this year to start to believe the stories that the people who love us most tell us about ourselves.

Stories about being worthy of love.

Stories about being truly, deeply beautiful.

Stories about what we can accomplish: the book we can write, the new role we’re ready for, the strengths we have that come so easily to us that we ignore them.

The biggest leaps I took in 2018 were possible because I believed, even if just for a moment, the kindest, most generous stories that people who love me told me. These stories were sometimes spoken out loud and sometimes reflected powerfully in actions.

All of them helped me see myself in the kinder light reflected in the mirror of their eyes, rather than the harsh glow of self-criticism.  And I’d think, “Maybe they’re right. Maybe that is in me. Maybe.” That was enough to imagine bravery. That was enough to begin.

As we look to 2019, let us remember to believe those who see in us more capability, bravery, and potential than we see in ourselves. And let’s remember that one of the greatest, easiest gifts we can give is to be positive mirrors, by reminding others of the beauty that lies within them.

Happy 2019. Here’s to a great year ahead.

2010 resolutions, in two takes

TAKE ONE

This year I resolve to…

Wake up earlier and go to bed earlier.

To get more sleep and always eat a proper breakfast and bring my lunch to work daily and rush less on my way to work and on my way home and everywhere in between.

To exercise more, practice yoga more and to meditate daily and to eat more fiber and green leafy vegetables.

To spend more time with family and friends, and also to build stronger relationships at work and for work.

To be on time for every meeting and also be open to spontaneous, creative, and urgent conversations.

To be slow to judgment, to anger and to frustration, and quick with a smile and a kind word.

To read all the interesting articles and videos and blog posts people send my way, and also the The Economist from cover to cover, and never to fall behind on email but not to be ruled by my Inbox or distracted by my iPhone.

To hit every deadline, strike everything off my to do list, to plan in advance and create clarity and inspiration and connection for those around me.

And to create a 30 hour day…

(Hmmm.)

TAKE TWO

This year I resolve to be more accepting of myself and of others, to be more present, more calm, more generous, more open, and more at ease.

*                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *

My thanks to all of you for reading in 2009, and wishing you a year in which you continue to evolve into the person you were meant to be.

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Changing practice by practicing change

New Year’s resolutions.  Diets.  Vows to arrive earlier to work.  Promises to keep calm while in traffic jams.  All worthwhile attempts at change that often fail.

Why?

“Change is hard,” right?  Maybe.  We try changing so rarely, so why should we be any good at it?  Same schedule most days.  Same people we work with.  Same friends, same families, same food we eat.

It’s reassuring and productive to have a whole lot of habits.  But we’re setting ourselves up for failure if we only attempt change when it’s something BIG: “I’m going to stop eating carbs.”  “I’m going to get up at 6am every day and exercise.”  “I’m going to become a great public speaker.”

Great if you can pull these things off.  If it’s not happening, maybe you can make space for practicing.  Practicing change, that is.  Trying to change small, low-stakes things, and watching what happens along the way.

Here’s an idea: try brushing your teeth with your other hand for a month.  It’s meaningless, it’s easy, it’s low stakes, and there’s no good reason you can’t pull it off.

Why bother?  Because if you can do this for a month you might have more faith that you can change something more important.  And if you fail (which you might), you’ll have a chance to watch when and why your attempts at change fall apart.  Are you initially enthusiastic but then lose interest?  Do you convince yourself it’s too hard?   Do you just forget?  Pulling this silly little thing off is your way to learn how to change – which makes it important and worth the follow-through.

(If you don’t like the idea of brushing your teeth with your left hand, here are some other ideas, all for a month: Arrive 5 minutes early for every meeting.  Never complain.  Answer enthusiastically when anyone asks you “how are you doing?”  Look everyone in the eye when you talk to them.  Sit quietly with your eyes closed for 5 minutes a day.  Go to bed by 10 pm.  Floss daily.)

Have fun with it.  Keep a log of how it’s going.  You never know what you might be good at if you practice.

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