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Almost 1,000 words about my two-word New Year’s resolution

It’s January first and you know what that means: reflections, resolutions, and regrets for some. It’s a strange thing, this time of year. High off of holiday warm and fuzzies, people start making plans to improve themselves for better or worse. We commit to things in January that seem impossible in July. We put off lifestyle changes we could make in November until January. Because New Year.

Like many of my more personal blog posts, this one started out as a quick thought I was writing down. As I wrote, I realized I had much more to express and explain than I considered at the onset.

I want to talk about my resolutions for this year, previous years, and for the years to come.

2011 was a tough year for me personally. It was the year I moved in with my then boyfriend and now husband which was a great positive, but I struggled a lot. When the year came to an end and I reflected on who I was and how I wanted to improve, I thought of only one thing.

7530662644_0df6b70ca0_zBe kinder.

When I told David, he thought it was a fine and also strange resolution. He tried to reassure me I wasn’t a bad person. I knew that. But I wasn’t as “good” of a person as I wanted to be. I wasn’t there for people as much as I wanted, I wasn’t as helpful as I meant to be, I was unforgiving and occasionally spiteful.

I was – and am – human (until I get my robot parts, that is).

We are so perfectly imperfect. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be better. That doesn’t mean I can’t be better.

So I vowed to be kinder.

When someone asked for help, I would consider first if I had any actual obstacle keeping me from helping and then considered what I would want the other person to do if the roles were reversed. When my husband forgot to do things I asked him to do, I tried to ask him nicely again before getting mad first. It was these small gestures and so many more that made me consciously work to be kinder. It wasn’t easy and I didn’t always follow through and I was still perfectly capable of being shitty, but I was trying and that counted for something.

I also stayed in therapy. If you don’t have a therapist you should go get one. But that’s another story for another time.

I think it’s important to point out that I said and I meant “kinder” and not “nicer.” I am not – and I say this without someone needing to pat me on the back about it – nice. No one would ever say “Sabrina is so nice.” They just wouldn’t.

Actually, when trying to figure out a good way to explain my feelings on the subject I stumbled onto this article about the difference between being kind and being nice. It’s a great example of why I feel “nice” has never and will never fit me.

I am not nice to others above all other things. I am not nice at risk of my own sanity. I am not overly and insistently nice. I do not put others first all of the time because sometimes I come first. If you are shitty to me, I will not be nice to you. If you are shitty to those around me, I will not be nice to you. If you are shitty to yourself, I will not be nice to you. I am confident in myself and my own abilities and will now allow anyone to take those from me for the sake of niceness.

I am incredibly droll. I am loud and sarcastic. I am occasionally abrasive, and even more occasionally offensive. I am not nice although I may do nice things.

I want to be kind. And I think that many times I am kind. But I want to be kind whenever I can and I will never reach that point but it’s a great place to strive for. So I choose the resolution to be kinder.

My resolution looks like a lot of different things. It means looking at things from the other person’s point of view before responding. It means offering help when I have no good excuse not to. It means forgiving. And it means giving. Giving of my time and my energy, and my money when I can. It means being a better wife, daughter, and friend. I am not bad at any of these things, but it doesn’t hurt to be better.

When 2012 ended I asked my husband if he thought I was kinder than the year before and he said yes while emphasizing yet again that I was never a bad person. My husband does not lie to me to save my feelings so I took his word for it. When everyone else was figuring out their resolutions for 2013 I carried mine over. And I did the same for 2014.

At the end of 2014, after two years of making the effort to be kinder, I can honestly say I feel it. I still get mad at my husband for being forgetful sometimes. I still pick laziness over helping others sometimes. I still hold grudges. But I’m kinder than I was in 2011 and I feel better. I feel lighter.

kindness-heart-image-orgspringHelping other people, being there for other people, offering what I can to others, these are the things that make me feel alive. And so these are the things I will take with me as I carry my resolution from the end of 2011 into the beginning of 2015 and beyond. To be kinder to myself, to my friends, to my family, to strangers.

New year’s resolution?

Be kinder. This year and every year. As long as I can.


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