This is the time of year where I begin thinking about what it is in life that I need to adjust; whether that means setting a resolution or not, just thinking about what could be adjusted is a good way to set priorities for the year. I’m pretty good about setting and sticking to resolutions; I love challenges and am incredibly goal-oriented; at least as long as I am the one setting the challenges.
I don’t know why, but normally I set my New Year’s Resolutions in November, and begin following them then. In November 2014, I gave up shopping for the entire year, and I stuck with that, for over 12 months, other than buying books. It was an awesome year; probably one of the best I have had. Prior to that, I had given up alcohol for 18+ months, which was also incredibly awesome. I never missed it, not once, not even when out with friends. I’ve taken part in challenges at yoga studios, going for certain amounts of days in a row, or meditation challenges; I’ve done juicing challenges, juicing one meal or snack daily. And I’ve given up social media, another one that I want to go back to. All of these were great, all of them got me out of certain habits, and more aware of what really matters in life.
So last month, I decided I would stop buying books. I was dead-set on it, even putting up little note cards around the house: you have all the books you need. Normally, that would work.
And then three days later, I bought some books. Yesterday, I bought more.
I justify this by buying used books. But it doesn’t matter, consumerism is consumerism, whether new or old.
So clearly this one is harder for me than most. When I gave up my shopping year, books was the one thing I allowed myself to continue to buy. But I don’t need them. I have enough unread business, yoga, relationship, psychology, brain and non-fiction books to last me all of next year, and probably then some. And I have a library literally less than a mile from my home. I also have a mom who reads constantly and is always giving me her book club books, and a sister-in-law who does the same. I don’t know why I feel like I have to own my books. I don’t know why I feel like every little bookstore in America won’t survive if I don’t support it with my almost-weekly purchases. They’ll do just fine.
The other side of this, is why do we feel (or I feel, at least) like it has to be all or nothing? Really, forbidding myself from something has always been the easy choice. Take wine, for example. I felt proud to not drink, I looked down on other drinkers, like they were turning to wine for sorrows, and I rejoiced in all of the money and calories I was saving. But forbidding myself of something like that is almost worse then just facing that item and realizing, it’s OK to have only one of you.
Why can’t I just be mindful?
That is what I had decided a few weeks ago, and so I took down all of the “you have all the books you need” cards and replaced them all with cards that say “mindful”.
That’s more like it, right? Be mindful of what you are doing. Be mindful of picking up the phone AKA computer AKA social media rabbit hole. Be mindful of what you are putting in your mouth. Don’t forbid wine or chocolate or real books or Facebook, just be mindful of when you turn to those things and why. And if you are aware, if you can pinpoint why you are choosing that item, then good. Even if you’re choosing it for loneliness or sorrow, good. You’re aware that that is why you are choosing that item.
Setting an intention to be mindful is almost harder for me, as it’s harder to have a goal that you can’t see, and it doesn’t have bragging rights. You can’t boast about not shopping or not drinking or not touching Facebook. You can’t really boast about being mindful, either. Isn’t that part of being mindful?
So here goes. I’m not going to forbid my book purchases or my wine nights or my Instagram feed. But I will be more mindful. I’ll make the resolution to step back before buying, before consuming, before speaking, before clicking. To see what the real reason is for me to turn to that desire; and if the desire is still there, I’ll go for it.
Life is too short to let our habits control us; it’s also too short to not live and experience and enjoy what we have. Being mindful is the key.
Rich and I had non-vegan biscotti one morning on our Sonoma trip and I’ve had this on my mind ever since. So I came up with this (vegan) biscotti recipe over Thanksgiving, and everyone LOVED it. So much so that I am making it again for Christmas. I hope you give it a try.