Have you created your list of New Year's resolutions yet? I haven't, and I won't. I've never been one to wait once a year to decide to change something. Throughout the year, I decide to change my behaviors or life situation when I feel the time is right. I feel like waiting for Jan. 1 is a bit manufactured and not very authentic. I may be a bit opinionated.
But for me, I like the process of things. I like the rituals and traditions of things. So a few years ago, I created new daily rituals for my family. When the children and I sit down for dinner, instead of simply saying grace, we each reflect on our days with specific reflections.
We each identify:
- One thing we're grateful for that day
- One thing we've failed at that day
- One kind deed of that day
- How we're feeling
- The best part of the day
- The worst part of the day
Why am I such a task-master and force my poor children to delay satisfying their hunger? Because I think these reflections remind us of several things. It's important to remember there's something to be grateful for in every situation. I don't want my kids to forget this, or to take things for granted. I'd like to hope I'm helping them with this practice of gratitudes and mindfulness.
I think it's important to also note what our failures are. This reminder forces us to remember what we didn't do well, and the discussion turns into how we can improve in the future. I find value in processing what didn't go as planned or intended, or what we just simply decided not to put our best effort into. I find value in identifying our weaknesses or flaws or mistakes. Not to ruminate on them, but to really examine them and decide what we're going to do with them -- accept them or improve them, and how.
A core value in my life is kindness. I believe firmly that we can't have too much kindness in this world, and that in fact, we don't have enough of it. I believe we are each responsible for adding to this kindness deficit. I believe no act of kindness can be too small, or too large. This daily reminder is self-explanatory. And if the kids cannot identify an act of kindness by dinnertime, there's still time to work on that.
Feelings. I also firmly believe we need to be able to identify our feelings and use our words to cope with them. Feeling angry is different than disappointed. Feeling anxious is different than feeling scared. How we cope with each of those is very different, so it's important to really know our feelings. I also like this one because our feelings change throughout the day. My kids need to learn that nothing lasts forever--good or bad. If they had a craptastic day, they can still feel very happy at dinnertime. If they had a great day, it can all go to hell in a heartbeat. There's value in accepting things wax and wane, there's value in learning how to be flexible, there's value in accepting things.
I think reflecting on your day to determine what the best part and worst part of the day helps not only start conversations to share our days, but it promotes mindfulness and gratitude and perspective. Identifying the worst part of the day alongside the best helps to combat catastrophizing or generalizing into a negative world view. Perspective is everything. It's important to remember each day contains both wonderful and horrible things.
I find these mindful reflections help with the overall and lifelong process of improvement. Reciting daily gratitudes teaches us how to be mindful of gratitudes in every moment big and small. Identifying our failures reminds us of our messy selves and who we want to be, and how to be that person. Remembering our acts of kindness every day reminds us simply to be kind. Recognizing our feelings keeps us in touch with ourselves. Perspective and remembering the good and bad in life helps us stay grounded.
This is our grace as we thank the world and count our blessings. These are our rituals. Our traditions. These help center us. Grounds us. Keeps us in the moment. I've found these reflections are in fact like resolutions, but they're daily and necessary so that we can consider a different tomorrow. It is in these daily moments and reflections that we forge our lives, and the direction of where we go.
I'm learning to act like the person I want to be. I'd like to think these daily reflections and rituals help us to get to who we want to be. Who needs once-a-year New Year's resolutions when we have an opportunity every day to reflect and be who we want to be? Not me. Now please pass the peas.