I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year! 2017 was interesting to say the least. May 2018 bring you joy, happiness, and a whole lot of laughter. (And more eaglets.)
Personally, 2017 has been an up and down year, although I’m sure everyone else can say the same. Like any year, there were exhilarating highs and frustrating lows. (Case in point, my “F” key is broken and I’m trying to avoid any words containing the letter “F”, but I’m failing in fantastic fashion.) Overall though, I can’t complain. I made it through another year. I still have my family, my friends, and my health, and I’m still walking on my two feet.
There’s something about a new year, how it’s a clean slate, that makes it such a motivating time. I hope that if you plan on making a New Year’s resolution, you make it manageable for yourself. Ambitious goals are certainly important, but so are small victories, and those ambitious goals can be broken down into smaller ones that will set you up for success. Trying to make too drastic a change, too quickly, often leads to failure.
I don’t remember the exact percentage of New Year’s resolutions that stick, but I know it’s quite low. I used to set these overly-ambitious resolutions for myself (Get straight A’s! Get up earlier! Go to the gym every day! Make it through an entire year without renouncing my Red Sox fandom!), but like everyone else, I’d find myself failing after just a few days. Or in the case of the Red Sox, every October outside of 2004, 2007 and 2013.
As for this year, I don’t really have a resolution, although I do have a request.
If there’s one thing I want to see everyone do in 2018 (and this includes me), it’s to have more conversations. I mean real conversations. Human to human interactions. I’m not talking more texts, or emails, or any form of social media. I mean using your voice. Going for a walk and saying hi to a passerby. Calling someone on the phone (an entire generation gasps in horror). Talking to a coworker in the lunchroom. Even volunteering at a nursing home or shelter. We are social creatures, yet, in our hyper-connected world, we have found a way to become more isolated than ever. And that isolation breeds resentment, depression, anger, and other negative emotions.
I used to hate talking to people. For years, I’d prefer texts to phone calls, and would dread having to pick up the phone and call someone I didn’t know. I was mortally afraid of my phone ringing at work, not knowing what was going to happen if I picked up. I even hated talking to strangers at coffee shops or in the check-out line. But now? I love interacting with people. Not a bad turnaround for an introvert.
Maybe it’s because I’m homebound now, but any time I have a chance to talk to someone, I relish the opportunity. I enjoy hearing another person’s voice, making them laugh, asking questions, and being a sounding board if they need to rant. If I can make someone’s day better because they crossed paths with me, well, that’s a full day right there.
My request is that you become that person for someone else. It could be a family member, a friend, or even a complete stranger. My hope is that, when tempted to communicate with someone through social media, you give them a call instead, or spend time with them in person.
We live in a world where we are all jaded, and oftentimes for good reason. There is no easy fix to that, sadly. We are a long way from locking arms and singing “Kumbaya”. But like any good New Year’s resolution, achievable goals become small victories, and ultimately, lead to lasting success. We can start by making the world a little less lonely for those around us. It is within our power. It takes a little more effort, sure, but it is well worth it in the long run.
Positive conversations aren’t going to change the world, but they aren’t going to hurt it either. And for 2018, that’s not a bad place to start.