To My Readers:
I wish all of you a very happy new year. I’ve had so many questions about new year’s resolutions that I’ve decided to write a generic column in an effort to answer as many as possible. I’ve heard from a lot of you about giving up cigarettes, alcohol, sugar, secret love affairs, weed, obsessions with other people, addiction to social media, etc. And from a lot of others eager to join gyms, lose weight, learn meditation skills, take up a new language, be nicer to one’s spouse, find a new job, go back to school, etc. From personal experience, I’ve learned it’s easier to give something up than to take on something new and I’d like to explore why.
Years ago, I made a resolution to quit smoking. I had tried to do this for three years running — no luck until I was pushed to the wall and had to quit for medical reasons. Now, finally, I was highly motivated, and it was do or die; but still I couldn’t actualize it, not on my own, and it took a hypnotist to stop the nicotine addiction and start me on the right path. (That did the job. I haven’t had or thought of cigarettes in almost twenty years.) What I learned was that if I wanted to quit an addiction, I had to want it with every fiber of my being and not just vaguely yearn or sort of promise to do it. And not only did I have to truly want it, I had to be willing to use assistance if necessary.
My resolution this year is far subtler. I’d like to slow down, give myself time to sit quietly, for instance, and enjoy a cup of tea, or watch the changing light over Austin’s downtown as the sun sinks and the day darkens. Normally I’m far too busy to stop and do anything but work or grab a little time with family. I’ve got classes to teach, columns to write, clients to see. The list never ends. And since I’m pretty driven, the idea of taking a few moments out for myself is a luxury I probably won’t have till I’m a good deal older. But still that is my resolution for this year and I intend to achieve it.
The word for what I want is mindfulness. It bleeds over into every area of my life and is the most important and healthful thing I can think of. But how to achieve it? For me it’s a day at a time. If a week goes by without the quiet, soothing moments I promised myself, I need to stop and reflect and remember to slow down. I wish that for all of you, dear readers.
Happy New Year!
REACTIONS TO BAH HUMBUG, NOT
Dear Bah Humbug,
What a stupid worry. If the poor little dears expect a handpicked gift and you don’t provide one, too goddamn bad for them. It’s your house; what you say goes. That’s the beginning and end of it. Merry Christmas.
Dorothy S., Kingston, NY
Dear Bah Humbug,
For me, despite their convenience, I don’t like gift cards. Too impersonal. When I get one, I know the person giving the card didn’t want to take the time to choose something meaningful and special for me, even if it were small, like a salt lamp or a leatherbound notebook. A token gift like that can say a lot. Hope your holiday goes well.
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Disclaimer: CD Knowles is not a doctor or psychotherapist. Any opinions expressed on Knowles Knows are just that — opinions.