Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Blessing Jar

My Blessing Jar for 2015

My last post, NYE 2014/5, generated a discussion with a good friend about setting goals and the difference I see between New Year's Resolutions and my New Year's Attempts.

So, I will clarify...

To me, the words 'resolution' and 'resolve' denote a steadfast determination to succeed. My experience has been that I have never kept a resolution for a full year, and then I feel like a failure and my self-esteem takes a big hit. And very often we make resolutions that are impossible to keep from the beginning, so we end up self-sabotaging, by setting ourselves up to fail. Then, it often becomes a vicious circle until we finally give up and fully embrace the bad habit.

So, I decided I would be happier if I chose to at least attempt to change the habits I want to change. By embracing the change more slowly, the goal then becomes easier to manage, and my self-esteem doesn't take as big a hit, should I not keep my resolution. At least I made the attempt, now I can regroup, refocus and decide my next course of action. I learned this in Weight Watchers. Why resolve to lose fifty pounds in two months when five pounds in two weeks is more reasonable? And then take the next step...and the next one...and lose the next five...the next five... So, you may still end up losing the fifty pounds you need to, but in smaller attempts.

My jar entries from 2014.
Baby steps is still progress.

But, the only two real goals I do have this new year are two I began in previous years; to read more and to continue with my blessing jar.

Reading more is self-explanatory and I actually began this Attempt a few years ago when I officially signed up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge, where you challenge yourself to read so many books in a year. I didn't make my goal last year reading only 9 of 15 books I set for myself. This year, I'm trying to be more realistic, and have set my goal at 12, though I hope to read more than 12.
      For more information on the Goodreads challenge, click here.

In 2014, every night before I retired,  I took a small notepaper and wrote down something good that happened to me that day and placed in an empty jar. For example, I picked two at random:
  • 1/31~ To have an ordinary day is a blessing in itself.
  • 3/7~ Xena (the cat I lost in Jan. 2014) is in her urn and with the rest (of my furry children).
[Not many would consider the second event to be a good thing, but I saw it as the fact I was over my grief of losing her, she was with her siblings, and it was the closing of a chapter with my ex, signaling a new chapter in my new life.]

The idea is that on New Year's Eve to take out all the papers from the jar and read them to see what an amazing year you did have. (To be honest, I have not done that as of this writing, yet.)

I recall writing something down nightly through about May, and then sporadically throughout the remainder of the year. To get back in the spirit, I even challenged a friend to do it with me, and then we would text each other the "something-good-happened-to-me-today" nightly. This year I will attempt to write nightly, past May. Some people may prefer to do this in a notebook of some kind to see a more chronological list of dates, but I find I lose or misplace notebooks easily. The jar and note paper sit in my headboard where I see them as I'm getting into bed. Science also shows that thinking positive thoughts right before going to sleep aids in getting to sleep faster and yields better sleep.

This year, though, I'm switching things up a bit.

I'm changing my focus to the blessings in my life. Yes, something positive happening during the course of a day could be a blessing, so I'm not discounting that idea. And, I'm adding a positive quality about myself.

So, those are my two goals I am attempting this year. In addition, I want to enjoy a more overall healthy lifestyle, so I am attempting to eat better, be more active, be in better touch with myself emotionally and spiritually; and to read and write more. I will also attempt to socialize more, which will elevate my mood and then, in turn, elevate my positivity.

So, how do I know if I'm successful at these Attempts? All I said was I would do more of  them, right? And the reading and writing are quantifiable, so if I read even one more book and write a few more pages, I will have succeeded. And in my gut, if I feel I have eaten more fruits and vegetables, and gotten a little more exercise, that will count as success, right?

Here's to 2015 and my New Year's Attempts!!

Let's see how I do!

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