As we age, it seems, life presents us with two options: denial or humility. And, in my opinion, if you decide to trade-in your denial about your limitations for a little bit of humility, you might as well fold some of that humility into your New Year’s resolutions…
This year, I’m going to stretch.
I’m not going to stretch because I’m training for the 2020 Summer Olympics or a marathon or a Tough Mudder, or even a 5k. No, these days, at the ripe old age of 41, I’m not stretching out of ambition, I’m stretching for the sake of prevention. I’m stretching so I can walk into the grocery store without a limp. So I can ascend a flight of stairs without pulling a hamstring. So I can roll out of bed without throwing out my back.
When I was younger, my New Year’s Resolutions were usually, in some way, related to conquering the world; now, as I age, my goal is a bit more ordinary: I just want to continue functioning in the world. So, if you’re like me and time has humbled you—if you now realize that mind-over-matter is a privilege of youth and, in the end, matter always wins, by eventually changing form—here is a list of New Year’s Resolutions for you to consider.
After all, it’s a worthy goal to be an upstanding citizen, but the older you get, the more you need to focus on simply standing up…
- Floss carefully. When you were young, you could go from Halloween to New Year’s—through buckets of chocolate and plates of pumpkin pie and stockings full of candy canes—without brushing your teeth once, and the dentist in January would still tell you that your “hygiene” looks great. Now, you miss a day of flossing and they want to send you to the periodontist. Resolution: Floss twice a day.
- Eat carefully. When you were young, you were like a woodchuck, and you could chomp on anything—jawbreakers and gobstoppers and ice and whatever—without any concern for your teeth. Now, a mouth full of almonds will almost certainly crack a crown. Resolution: Eat only one almond at a time.
- Sneeze carefully. When you were young, you could walk through a dust storm and stifle every sneeze—your body was powerful enough to contain the force of it. Now, if you try to be silent during a sneeze, you’ll probably herniate a disc. Resolution: When you sneeze, hold on to something, bend your knees, and let it fly. Don’t worry about volume.
- Bend carefully. When you were young, you could bend sideways and pick a nickel off the pavement from a moving car. You were Gumby with acne. Now, if you bend over to pick up anything without a little forethought, you might not be able to bend over again for a very, very long time. Resolution: Never, ever again bend over from the waist. Always squat. Add this to next year’s Resolutions list right now.
- Dress carefully. When you were young, you could flirt with frostbite and and hardly feel it. Now, if your toes get a little cold, they may not warm up again until summer. Resolution: Buy wool socks. Wear them shamelessly.
- Drink carefully. When you were young, your insulin system was, too. You could drink a mocha latte for breakfast, a Mountain Dew for lunch, and a Captain ’n’ Coke for dinner—everyday—and your body would mostly function like it was supposed to. Now, a week of that, and you’ll gain ten pounds, your blood pressure will set records, and your pancreas will go on strike. Resolution: Water. Drink lots of water.
- Breathe carefully. When you were young, breathing wasn’t something you had to think about. Like play and laughter and being carefree, it came naturally. Now, you need to focus on your breath, attend to it, breathe slowly, cultivate mindfulness of the life force that keeps you going, and learn how to be present again. So that one day you might remember how to play and laugh and be carefree once more. Resolution: Ten minutes a day of mindful breathing. Life’s too short to not practice paying attention to it.
That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Seven resolutions from this old man for this new year. I hope they help you, too.
And don’t forget the stretching.
In his debut novel, Kelly weaves a page-turning, plot-twisting tale that explores the spiritual depths of identity and relationships, amidst themes of healing, grace, faith, forgiveness, and freedom.
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Dr. Kelly Flanagan is a psychologist, author, consultant, and speaker who enjoys walking with people through the three essentials of a truly satisfying life: worthiness, belonging, and purpose. His blog writings have been featured in Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, The 5 Love Languages, and the TODAY Show. Kelly is the author of Loveable and True Companions.