People tend to feel passionately about New Year’s resolutions one way or the other. I’m quite in favor of them myself, spending the days around January 1 plotting how this year I’m actually going to do my resolutions, not just think about them. I bought this habit calendar from Kickstarter because I’d read that Jerry Seinfeld created an ironclad daily writing habit by marking an X on a calendar every day he wrote. As the string of X’s grew, keeping the streak became the incentive. Now I’m feverishly marking off my calendar for goals like “Write every day” and “Exercise for 30 minutes.” My willpower game is strong right now.
The problem is, it won’t always be. That’s why I’m considering making some resolutions that are actually pleasurable to keep. What if you made a goal to watch more movies? Or to read a book you chose just for the cover? Or like my friend Amy, to log 365 self-propelled miles outside this year?
Or here’s a thought: Increase your place attachment with some happy local resolutions: to get an ice cream at the neighborhood parlor once a month (once a week?), or to walk in the woods on sunny Saturdays, or to buy tickets for three live performances in your city. (I really want to see this one.)
My family’s other New Year tradition involves conducting a sort of year-in-review, writing down our accomplishments and favorite memories from the year that’s just passed. The memories can be particularly tricky. Who knows what we did back in February of last year? Often we can only recall the extraordinary, like a trip to Alaska. We remember the events that take us away from our normal lives and regular places precisely because they’re so unusual.
This year, I want to celebrate the more mundane delights. So yet another resolution is to keep a memory jar. We’ll write down simple little joys that happen all year long, tuck the papers in a jar, and pull them out to read and remember next January 1. I hope that there will be many forest walks mentioned, as well as lots of trips to the ice cream parlor.
Shameless self-promotion portion of the newsletter: I’m speaking (http://melodywarnick.com/events/) about This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live quite a bit this coming spring. Know a group that might be interested? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few more items of interest
1. Get stuff done the old-fashioned way by hiring a neighborhood kid to do it for you.
2. Men and women use cities differently. Duh.
3. My CityLab story explains how the Danish concept of hygge can make winter not suck. (Canoe sledding, people.)
4. “I want to see my neighbors prosper … especially if those neighbors are feeling targeted and vulnerable.” Localism as a moral imperative.
5. Vote for where you think America’s heartland really is. Apparently it’s all in the mind.
6. Shop indie, save the world.
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