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A friend of mine just posted that she “aimed to be a better person” in the coming year. Talk about a lofty New Year’s resolution! But seriously, the friend in question is phenomenal already. While we all (hopefully) aspire to become better versions of ourselves, it struck me that the most wonderful people I know are also the most introspective. The people who (from an outside perspective, anyway) least need improvement are the ones gazing deep within and striving to be better, somehow. Not to sound judge-y, but it seems the people who could desperately use a little self-examination are some of the most self-satisfied folks I know. What’s that about?

I spend a lot of time examining my flaws. Too much, I’m sure. I worry about the kind of wife/mother/friend I am on a regular (read: daily) basis, and am inclined to feel like I am failing on all fronts. I write about it, I pray about it and I angst over it. It’s like I’m constantly holding up a metaphorical magnifying mirror and cringing over my internal reflection. (Note to reader: magnifying mirrors suck. They turn ordinary faces into genetic mutations, and should be avoided at all costs. I’ve lost hours fixating on my eyebrows, which when held up to the standards of the 7x magnifying mirror suddenly look like I’m the direct descendant of a yeti.) Why do we do this to ourselves? I guess I should be asking the question of myself alone, but nearly everyone I know and love best on this planet falls victim to this kind of self-flagellation. It’s awful, and – speaking solely for myself here – it doesn’t seem to accomplish much. I spend too much time tearing myself to pieces and not nearly enough putting myself back together again. Not healthy or helpful.

My point is not that I need no further improvement. Far from it. But I have this habit of zeroing in on my flaws until I am paralyzed much the way I am by an actual magnifying mirror. The flaws loom so large that I stand there, plucking and picking, until I’ve done more harm than good. I need to find a way to acknowledge the good along with the bad, and to keep moving forward. Growth comes along with forward momentum. If I’m standing still agonizing over my flaws, I’m not allowing myself to grow.

We all have flaws; they’re a part of humanity. Why I feel like I’m so much more messed up than most of those around me is a question for another day. My goal for this year is to try to move forward… to spend far more time focusing on things that matter and less staring in that imaginary mirror feeling like things just can’t be fixed. I have so much in my life – and yes, even in myself – worthy of appreciating. There will always be things I want and need to change, and that’s fine. In the end, though, the fastest way to happiness probably comes from recognizing what is already wonderful in my life and in myself. It’s so easy for me to look at my friends and recognize their good points… their talents, their beauty, their value. Why is it so hard for me to look at myself with the same openness and appreciation?

New Year’s Resolutions

1. Be happy.
2. Recognize the good, always, in myself and others.
3. Be gentle with myself and the world at large.
4. Keep writing.
5. Keep trying.
6. Breathe before screaming.
7. Move forward.
8. Make sugar a sometimes food.
9. Never apologize for my feelings.
10. Give love generously… to myself, my family, and my friends.

I hope everyone has a beautiful year.