January 1, guilts many of us into making resolutions. I’m not much into assigning myself tasks I’m unlikely to fulfill, but it’s become part of our national tradition to think about all the things that are wrong with us and then figure out ways to fix those flaws in the next 12 months.

This is the way I see it, five ways times two, to a better you.

Five reasons not to feel guilty your resolutions have crashed and burned

Even if you don’t keep your resolutions, you benefit from having made them. Resolutions are practical decisions intended to make you a better you, which takes a positive mindset. Studies show that a positive attitude improves your outlook and your disposition, which does indeed, make you a better you.

It’s probably something that made you feel bad about yourself anyway. Resolutions to quit this bad habit or that bad habit throw you into a negative mode from the get-go. The day to start a healthier lifestyle isn’t Jan. 1; it’s any day you are empowered to make positive changes.

You’re not alone. A 2019 U.S. News & World Report report indicated an 80 percent failure rate among those who made resolutions, with most respondents losing their resolve by mid-February, if not sooner. The trick, if you must make a resolution, is to keep it simple, doable and with a short shelf life. “I’m going to clean my dresser, one drawer at a time, over six days,” (six drawers, six days; get it?) is more doable than, “I’m going to walk five miles every day.” I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Making a resolution gives you something to think about. So, you didn’t make or keep a resolution. So what? It made you think about changes you can make at any time to improve your health or some other aspect of your life. That is something to feel good about.

If you don’t make a resolution, you don’t have to feel bad when you don’t keep it. Guilt is a terrible motivator. It makes you cranky and resentful and dribbles salt into your wounded ego when you don’t achieve the often impossible goals you set.

Tackle self-improvement in a more holistic and creative way that avoids negativity and makes life better for you and those around you.

Five healthy habits to make your life better without the messy guilt of not keeping a resolution

If you smoke, quit. There has never been a scientific study that says smoking is in any way good for you. As a former smoker I can say categorically it is the worst thing you can do to your body. And vaping? Good grief. It is not a safe substitute.

Walk regularly, no excuses. Walking is good cardio, gets you out in the sunlight, creates opportunities for you to interact with other people, limbers you up, improves mood, boosts your energy, burns calories and contributes to creativity.

Call a friend and just chat. Friends are the family we create for ourselves. Good friends help bolster your sense of purpose and lift you up when you’re down. They listen without judgment and help you keep life in perspective. They are a shoulder to cry on and the ones who get it when you’re laughing about something that makes no sense to anyone but the two of you. These are inexplicable relationships you can’t do without.

Laugh every chance you get. Laughter truly is the best medicine. Align yourself with people who know what it means to bust loose with a guffaw, a giggle, a snort. People who laugh with babies and those who wipe tears from their eyes from laughing so hard at a well-told tale are among my favorite people. Know and respect the difference between laughing with others, not at them.

Become involved in a project or organization. Studies have shown that people who have a purpose are the happiest and most fulfilled. Every organization needs participants, members and volunteers. Lend your skills to a worthwhile cause and reap the benefits of better health and building relationships.

So, there you have it. Think about what you can do and have done, not necessarily to improve yourself, but to make the world around you a better place. That alone makes you better today than you were yesterday, and there is a ripple affect; it has a lasting impact.

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The weird genius habits

I am a genius. No, really, I am. According to Reader’s Digest I have seven and a half of the weird traits that secretly indicate I am smarter than the average bear. Well, they didn’t say bear, but to say what they said would be like, well, gee whiz, bragging!

First, I don’t believe for a second I’m a genius. There are way too many instances where my life would prove quite the contrary. But it’s fun to think about.

Let’s begin with the habits I don’t have. Cold showers. Really? Who wants to take cold showers? I guess the one good thing about that would be waking up really fast in the morning.

Swearing. This is sort of a half-and-half thing. I do swear, but only now and then, and when it by-damn is called for!

Habits I admit to, but see nothing weird about.Busy, busy, busy

Having a messy desk. See photo. ‘Nuff said.

Stay up late. I would stay up later, but my husband worries I’m not getting enough rest. My best and most productive writing time is in the middle of the night. No distraction. Complete silence. I can board a train of thought and ride it to the end of the line.

Talk to myself. More than I wish to admit. Dialog on the page comes alive or falls flat when spoken aloud, but it’s more than that. When I’m in the middle of a mess (writing mess) I mutter and mumble through it. “If this happens, how does it impact that? Did Joe have green eyes in chapter two and now they’re blue? What if Joe doesn’t go down that road, but takes this one instead?” I know I’ve gone from mutter and mumble to speaking voice when I hear from the living room, “Did you say something?”

“No,” I say, and return to mutter and mumble.

The sound of chewing is annoying. It can be, especially if I’m the one chewing. A sort of meditative experience for me is chewing ice, which is annoying to nearly everyone who can hear it. But the sound of chip-chewing and other crunchy foods sort of gets on my nerves as well. Again, it’s the noise in my head caused by me chewing, not other people. So this one may not apply. Maybe my genius habits only add up to seven.

Doodling. Really? This is weird? EVERYONE DOODLES!

Being self-critical. Well, I must say, this one hits the nail on the head. I won’t go into detail here, but suffice it to say I know the song and dance of all the things that are wrong with me and my work. It takes a certain amount of courage to get past personal doubt and continue to write and publish.

This is my favorite. Daydreaming. That’s the source of everything writers write. You kinda go beyond what you know, into a world where anything is possible.

In conclusion, these random weird habits hardly make me – or anyone else who has them – a genius. What it amounts to is that we are all a little flawed, which may very well contribute to creativity, and that’s okay with me.

So, from one genius to another, have a weird and wonderful day.

From the pen (keyboard) of Sharon Vander Meer

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