Personal Resolutions for Living

by Marnie Macauley January 30, 2017
 

 

advice-febWe Jews are “resolving” year-round, so I think readers will find it helpful to return to some favorite “life lessons” that I’ve amassed over my (many) years.

“Life is a messy affair – if you’re doing it right.”

No, this doesn’t involve turning the living room into a dumpster in downtown Calcutta. It means putting yourself “out there,” despite the curve balls. A life devoid of risks and foul-ups means you’re either living in an emotional bunker or you’re an android.

RESOLUTION: To live life full out, take fair risks and expect bumps and lumps, despite the best-laid plans.

“I’ve yet to see a perfect meatloaf, never mind a perfect person.”

Quit expecting perfection. It doesn’t exist. It’s a falsehood, hyped by flawed humans who write books title “The 10 Ways to Stay in Love Forever” – and have been married five time (which is certainly one strategy.) As failure’s inevitable, your confidence will nose-dive as you pitifully grasp yet another flavor-of-the-month self-help book to “fix” you.

RESOLUTION: To try to be the very best I can be and feel satisfied in the trying.

“Mistakes and failures are our
best teachers.”

Without learning from failure, we’d all still be crawling to the potty chair. Children are constantly falling, then picking themselves up to take yet another step. But we adults, psychobabblers and media have turned failure into a shanda, a shameful disaster. If we beat ourselves with nettle stalks we’ll get nowhere. But if we choose to see our failures as opportunities to learn, we can go places we never dreamed of.

RESOLUTION: To see failure as a natural learning experience that will make me stronger and more successful – inside, and in life.

“Nothing dooms the creative impulse fas ter than an inattentive spirit.”

A life without the right stuff to follow our passion is like hoping to make a matzo ball without the matzo. “I want” isn’t enough. The chin must say, “I will.” And that means finding not only the desire but the determined ambition to move from wishing to doing.

RESOLUTION: To identify my passion and make specific plans so my days are marked with grand anticipation and effective action.

“One of the biggest errors humans make is assuming others see the world as
they do.”

They don’t. Yet I hear it all the time: “I can’t believe she wants to spend half of our savings on a huge house!” “Why should he suggest I get a part-time job when I have two children?” “How dare she expect me to spend two weeks with her mother! I don’t even talk to mine!” Each is sure he or she is playing life by the only “right rules.” Judging others by what we would do and how we feel will cause our spleen to bile up as we assign all sorts of incorrect motives to those who think differently.

RESOLUTION: To accept the fact that people don’t always see things my way. Before jumping to conclusions, I’ll get more information and try to negotiate important differences.

“If it sounds like a nut, if it cracks like a nut, it’s a nut.”

Believe fact. Believe action. Believe the simplest explanation, in the absence of other compelling evidence. If he’s promised a ring – for the last seven years – and you’re still opening his Cracker Jacks hoping for the prize, my friend, the only thing you may get is a nasty kernel under your gums. 

RESOLUTION: To believe what is, and what is truly possible, rather than believe what I wish life to be.

“People aren’t pantyhose. They don’t come in one-size-fits-all. We’re a
custom job.”
While of course there are areas of common courtesy and understanding, we each see the world through our own lens, in the “gray” matters of feelings and behavior, we are, each of us, as unique as snowflakes. There’s no one right answer for all of us in the cosmos, just a useful one that suits our needs and our beliefs.

RESOLUTION: To be OK with myself, indeed celebrate my differences – warts and all – and to extend the same respect to others.

“Kindness demands we care more about keeping up with people, than keeping up appearances. Manners, true manners is more important that etiquette – that is, the exquisite art of making others comfortable in your presence.”

I know a hostess who can set a table that would have the queen checking her Emily Post. All’s swell. Except…should a poor invitee drop a fish fork, she turns into the mad hatter. Needless to say, her guests leave like Dr. Katz’s patients, gyrating and insane. In a culture that places a high price on “appearances,” it’s too easy to lose the importance of the very people we’re trying to wow.

RESOLUTION: To make the people in my life my priority over impressions. 

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