I am a sucker for making resolutions – I don’t need 1st January to whip out a list of good intentions, just give me a Monday morning or the day after a particularly heavy night out and I’m signing myself up to all sorts.
But it’s a new year that is the real king of fresh starts. It’s a chance for us to take everything that happened in the past 365 days and condense it into one tidy box, easily kept on the good shelf in our memory marked ‘ones to remember’ or else shifted into a dark spot with the other ‘ones to forget’. We sum it up in a photo montage of gratitude to our loved ones, or we pack it into a shrug of the shoulders and a wish for better things in the months ahead – whichever the outcome, 1st January arrives and we’re all there with a list of all the ways this year will be our time to shine.
Trainers are dusted off, books are bought, promises are made. The status updates and photos of fresh smoothies and early morning runs come in a flurry, until they die down to infrequent splutters like Manchester snow. And then we’re back on the takeaways and all out of free time to go to yoga, promising ourselves it will all change with the clocks.
I am one of the biggest culprits for resolution making and breaking. Like everyone else, I relish those first few weeks of a full diary and positive vibes. Like everyone else, I lose motivation not long after and convince myself I couldn’t have done it anyway.
I remain unhappy with myself, with how little quality time I spend with my loved ones, how little I push myself to do things – but fresh journals and fitness apps and books of inspirational quotes will only get us so far. Unless the end result is something we truly desire and believe in, no resolution list on a post-it is going to get us there.
My past years of bright intentions and pale failures are prominent in my mind every January, but this year I have decided that if I am to change, my resolutions are going to have to change with me. This year I have condensed years of wishes to better myself into one goal, and that is to cultivate positivity.
Quite a feat for someone who suffers from depression and has a tendency to be over-emotional, and a hell of a lot harder than pursuing a new hobby in pom-pom making, but something I feel is the root of living a full and happy life.
As someone famous once said and I once saw on a Pinterest quotes board, happiness is a choice that requires effort at times. Just like it can be hard to pull on those trainers when it’s cold and dark outside, it is not always easy to choose looking on the bright side. It can feel quite normal for me to be all sunshine and rainbows but that’s a hard state to maintain when you’re walking through rain clouds.
My first step in cultivating positivity is to get to grips with my depression. Although last year was a blissfully happy one for me, there were still dark days where I wanted to do nothing but lock myself at home with a bucket of happy pills and books that couldn’t hurt my feelings like people do.
I know that these dark days are never going to go away, but this year I will learn to spot the signs that pave their path towards me and if I find myself still swept up in the storm I will give myself time to ride it out and recover afterwards. I will let those who I love look after me when I need to be looked after, and shake me up when I need that too.
It’s easy to say that we should cut out all negativity from our lives, but reality is not Pinterest. There are responsibilites we have, things we need to do and people we don’t necessarily gel with that are all part of our lives and impossible to remove. I cannot control these situations but I can control how I respond to them – I will try to come to terms with the fact that negativity will still be around, but that I can choose not to let it take over (this is the point where being happy seems like a bloody pain and I wish I picked pom-pom making as my resolution instead).
Finally, and most importantly for me, I will have no shame in this journey to having a happier life.
I may come across as a confident person who is assured in her path, but all it takes is the seeing a snigger out of the corner of my eye to knock the wind out of my sails. Countless times have friends told me to stop giving people such a hold over how I feel, but as with everything in this happiness malarky it can be easier said than done. Well, this is the year I try to get it done.
How many times have you had a wonderful day or a brilliant response to something you’ve done, and spent all your time afterwards pondering on the negative response of one individual? How many times have you absorbed the criticism of a few over the good vibes of many? How many times have you worried about someone you just don’t seem to gel with when you could be concentrating on your friends and the people who would do anything for you?
This is the year it stops my friends. I will take the little rocks of negativity that people surreptitiously throw at me and with them I will build the foundation of a happy life where people like that have no place. I will listen to the opinions, and criticisms, of those who love me and care about me. I will champion those that do, and I will commit way less time and worry to those that don’t.
I don’t predict that this will be an easy journey, and I definitely know it will take longer than 365 days, but one thing I am sure of is that I will be a better person for at least trying.
For all those of you who read these ramblings and also suffer from depression or anxiety or low self esteem, I encourage you to come along on the journey with me. Take the small steps to looking after yourself and trying to spring clean your head of all the negativity and jibes and memories of mean people that you can. Fill the space with positive thoughts, your real hopes and dreams, the love of your special ones. Commit your time to reciprocating that love instead of wasting time on negative individuals.
Take a moment to absorb how far you’ve come instead of panicking how far there still is to go. Add up everything that is good in your life and tuck it into a special place to be looked at on those dark days when the dementors can’t be kept at bay.
Life is short and if there’s one thing we deserve to try and be, it’s as happy as we possibly can. Let’s make 2015 the year we start eh?