Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet?
If you haven’t, then I would recommend you stop while you are ahead. Nothing breeds guilt, unhappiness and self-directed anger so much as a broken New Year’s resolution.
It is human nature to try to turn moments like a fresh year into an opportunity to improve our lives. When such moments occur during a time other than January 1, we more typically call them goals or aspirations. I don’t think it is necessary to change this perfectly good terminology into the looming and somewhat legalistic sounding New Year’s resolution (as in “Be It RESOLVED…).
Human nature is such that most of us are not able to reliably make major changes in our lives without multiple efforts. I made my first New Years resolution to stop smoking more than 30 years ago. It took me four more years and six more attempts before I put aside a habit I knew to be harmful to my health. I have not smoked in more than a quarter of a century!
Losing 20 pounds and exercising every day are noble and important objectives worth aiming for. If they remain objectives, then we are not left with a sense of failure when we don’t meet them perfectly. If we are not rigidly successful in meeting a goal there is room for trying again. The research is pretty clear about behavioral changes. Like me, most people must attempt them several times before they are able to reach a level they consider successful.
So, what are some reasonable goals a person with Parkinson’s might set?
1. Strive to get more exercise. Walk the dog, park your car further from the mall entrance, take the stairs rather than the elevator.
2. Eat better as often as possible. Diet is an important part of our ability to deal with chronic illness.
3. Laugh more.
4. Build upon your ties to your family. The most important accomplishment in anyone’s life is the love one has for family.
5. Strive for more “good days.” PD is a challenge for everyone but you will find that many days you are really quite successful in meeting its demands.
6. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
In short, Be It RESOLVED that there be no New Year’s resolutions. Rather resolve to have goals and to live this life with a sense of dignity and wonder.