Thursday 12 December 2019

No resolutions, just a year of me, me, me

Very crafty: I've convinced myself that if it's not mass-produced, it's a health food and that includes beer, which is like liquid muesli
Very crafty: I've convinced myself that if it's not mass-produced, it's a health food and that includes beer, which is like liquid muesli
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Are they putting enough pressure on us to improve ourselves for January. On Tuesday alone, I vowed to start taking a Vitamin D supplement, I nearly signed up for a mindfulness course at work, started an inbox zero policy on emails and for a snack I ate some nuts instead of something nice. Of course this "they" that are putting all the pressure on us are the media, of which I am technically a part. But I promise you this article will not improve your life in any way.

But the truth is I do need to cop on. I put on about half a stone in the run up to December and then I put on a bonus half stone in December. The denial had to stop when I couldn't fit into my work jeans on Monday.

I get an extra bonus on the self-loathing every January due to a January birthday. I'm staring down the barrel of 46 this year. And I thought 45 was a tipping point! When I hit 45 I decided I was heading for 50 now and it was the end. I got over it. But 46 is over the half-way hump of the 40s. I might as well be 50. And I ask the question that all old people ask - How the hell did that happen? And why am I still an adolescent despite having a good 30 years on most adolescents?

So I'm ancient and I have a stone to lose. And I didn't even stop drinking for January. Due to work commitments I had to stop drinking for two days over the Christmas so I had to make up for that by drinking on January 1 and 2 and even a few cheeky pints to round it off on January 3. And then I had a thing I had to go to on January 8. More booze. Though I have convinced myself at this stage that drinking craft beers is not really drinking. It's a cultural experience, a gourmet thing. I've convinced myself the same thing about bread. If it's not mass-produced it's a health food. So craft beer is essentially liquid muesli. I notice my wife getting crafty with the gin too. Apparently if it's from Dingle or if it has cucumber in it, it's not really boozing.

I think the key for me this New Year might be not to give up things but to take up things, good things, and then maybe some of the good habits will muscle out the bad habits. You might have noticed that compassion is the big thing for the New Year. Just as mindfulness begat gratitude, gratitude is now giving way to compassion. I'll be honest: I'm not sure what the compassion thing is about, but I suspect that like a lot of these things it's another way of being self-absorbed while claiming to be doing something much more noble. I think the primary focus of your compassion is meant to be yourself. Naturally I'm up for it. Everyone always says I'm too hard on myself. So I can get onboard with a philosophy that involves me being nicer to me. So having flirted with gratitude in 2015, 2016 is going to be my year of compassion.

A psychologist I met on the radio over the New Year actually gave a very good version of a compassionate New Year's resolution. His notion was that you should think about all the things that made you feel most alive last year and resolve to do more of them. And I am seriously going to take that on as my mantra for this year.

Now obviously this has its drawbacks. For the last few weeks the things that have mostly made me feel alive are Netflix, drinking craft beer and eating rich food followed by sweet things. After a brief worry that I wouldn't get through my traditional Christmas box of 36 Tunnocks teacakes, I even managed that in the end. I became so lazy and childlike about my food that when ordering steak and chips over Christmas, I asked to substitute mash for the chips because the chips seemed like too much hard work.

But then again, eating and drinking too much and lying around binge watching Netflix are not the things that make me feel alive. If anything, they are anaesthetics to cut me off from life. As I have emerged from my Christmas cocoon, I have realised that the things that make me feel alive are usually the things I don't feel like doing - getting up early, a good walk in the elements, a dip in the cold sea, a vigorous swim, some sociability. Because I guess you have to act alive before you feel alive. So here's to the year of being alive.

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