Here we are; gripped by that "turn the page" fever and ready to pick something about us to work on in the coming year. In a 2005 survey, it was discovered that only 8 percent of Americans achieve their New Year's resolutions. Almost half had already failed by the end of January.
I think it's because we get too grandiose. Instead of saying, "I'll get more walks in," we say, "I'm joining a gym and working out every day!" Small goals are more achievable. Isn't that better than a big goal -- that won't happen?
Perhaps we should take a Zen lesson from our cats.
Cats are far more successful than we are when it comes to "living in the moment." This is all the more impressive because they can also keep track of time and think ahead. So it's not like they don't have long term memory or strategic planning skills.
They just know when those skills are useful, and when they are only going to get in the way.
It's been four months since we brought RJ home, and we are thrilled with his progress. He's learned not to get frantic about food, he's made a buddy of Mr. Bond, and he learned, over the Christmas holidays, to play fetch.
This is all the more amazing to me because he really did have a deficit to overcome; he had to be taught to play, to express himself facially and vocally, to feel secure. These are things most kittens can accomplish much earlier than he did.
But he did accomplish it. If we had expected something he couldn't deliver, we would have been exasperated. He would have felt pressured and stressed. Neither of us would have gotten what we wanted as quickly and easily as we did; or, in a worst case scenario, at all.
Why don't we treat ourselves, this year, with gentleness and understanding? Let's not ask more of ourselves than we can deliver. Let's not get angry at ourselves if we cannot achieve something right away. That only builds barriers and resentment.
This year, let's be like kittens. We'll try to understand what is asked of us, and do our best to behave, and give love freely when the opportunity arises. If we can manage to be cute without straining ourselves, we'll do that too.
Perhaps the best resolution we can make is to live more in the moment, every time we think of it. This doesn't mean we disregard responsibilities or discard long term goals. But every day offers at least one moment we can enjoy. Maybe more. All we have to do is resolve to look for them.
I think that's one resolution I can keep.