This year, I’m trying something new. Rather than making a list of short-lived resolutions, I’m resisting the ubiquitous urge to become a “Happy New You” and declaring the current me to be satisfactory, and maybe even better than that.

That doesn’t mean I am getting as much exercise as I should; let’s face it, it doesn’t even mean that all of my clothes are fitting properly at the moment. Nor does it mean that I am reading enough for enjoyment, or that my house is organized, or…you get the idea. So what am I going to do about it? Nothing. Sort of.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the negative effects of always striving for “better.” In our race to improve, the argument goes, we never get a chance to appreciate what we already are and have. Satisfaction is always around the corner, over the next hill. We’ll be happy when we are thinner, or better dressed, or when we get those hardwood floors installed. (Ok, the hardwood floors may just be my thing.)

Chasing better suggests that we are not good enough as we are, and leads to negative, self-punishing thoughts and behavior. We shame ourselves and deprive ourselves, and feel so dissatisfied.

I am not the first to point out that we would never treat someone we love like that. We would encourage them, point out what they’ve accomplished already, and actively support them in a positive manner. They aren’t perfect either, but we love them anyway.

So this year, I’m going to treat myself the way I hope I’d treat anyone I cared about. I will make sure that I am getting enough sleep, eating plenty of produce, and getting outside often enough. I’m going to take care of what I already have, and appreciate it. I’m going to nurture my curiosity and creativity. I’m going to gently nudge myself to take more risks, and accept attention. I’m going to hug my family more, and laugh loud and often.

And if I have to, I’ll buy bigger pants.

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