Every New Year, I write a post about resolutions for a healthier New Year. But this year, my friend and favorite yoga teacher, Amber, has inspired a different approach. Amber wrote this article for Yoga International. Amber says, “To me, a resolution feels like another “should” in a life full of shoulds — a demand for more effort in a world already requiring so much fortitude.”
Does that sound familiar? With all of the stress that parents face today, I am sure that none of you need the added pressure of resolutions. In the spirit of our Gimme the Good Stuff motto, “Stay Sane,” let’s consider forgetting about traditional resolutions. Instead of doing more, we can set a focus on what already is, and see what happens. Those of you who practice yoga will recognize this as choosing a drishti, or focus point.
The Power of Setting a Focus Point
Amber reminds us that one of the definitions of resolve is “to turn into a different form when seen more clearly.” She suggests that we can resolve or bring into focus an aspect of our lives. When you choose a focus, you decide what you want to pay attention to, and you see what resolves. For example, instead of making a resolution to lose that last 10 pounds, you could focus on what you love about your body and weight now. With sustained interest and curiosity, you can see what might resolve around your weight.
Or instead of making a resolution to stop eating sweets, you can slow down and focus on the pleasure that comes from every bite and how you feel before, during, and after. Perhaps you will enjoy sweets more and therefore eat less. Or perhaps you will notice that you eat sweets when you’re upset, and you’ll see clearly that you can make another choice.
Maybe you have a desire to be kinder or more loving. You could set your focus on what you appreciate about each person or situation, and allow your attention to inspire genuine acts of kindness.
My Focus Point for This Year
My drishti for this year was inspired by a Caldwell Banker flyer I received in the mail. The flyer said, “Study shows: happy people hang out at home.” Having just returned from a busy family vacation, I was intrigued. You know that feeling of coming home and being so happy to be back? That’s what I was feeling.
A study conducted by Karen Melton of Baylor University and Ramon Zabriskie of Brigham Young University concluded that “families who hang out at home together seem to be happier than those who spend their free time bonding over activities or vacations.” Apparently, while traveling or on vacation, the brain is distracted by new information and experiences, so there is less attention available to focus on family relationships.
On the other hand, everyday experiences at home offer lots of bonding opportunities. Melton and Zabriskie say that there is something very special about good old routines. Building memories through actions that are repetitive, yet meaningful, brings families together.
So I decided to put my focus for this year on the pleasure that we find by spending time together at home. This is particularly meaningful to me during the winter, which I otherwise tend to wish away in favor of the warmer seasons. (I blame this tendency on having spent too many brutal winters in Vermont!) Focusing on enjoying family time at home helps me to savor and take full advantage of these slower-paced months.
Eight Great Ways to Enjoy Family Time at Home
If this idea of building family bonds by spending together at home resonates with you, consider these simple but powerful ideas:
1. Take on a DIY project. Kids love to help with these. I bought my grandsons measuring tapes and they love to help take measurements for projects. We also involved them in safe tasks when we were doing the renovations for Project 111.
2. Cook together. Planning and preparing meals is another thing that kids also love to do, and cooking is the kind of daily routine that Dr. Melton suggests really brings families together. I get lots of kid-friendly ideas and inspiration from books like this one. Maia loves this one by Alice Waters.
3. Plant something and tend to it together. You don’t have to do a whole garden, though that’s great. We just planted narcissus bulbs, a nice indoor option for the cold months. You can also add house plants (bonus: some of them help improve the quality of your indoor air). You can even do an indoor garden.
4. Make a list of classic movies and watch them together on rainy or snowy days. Our family favorite is The Sound of Music.
5. Have a game night. We love Pictionary, and there is a kids’ version available now. Dominoes is another family favorite. Slightly older kids can also play games that are fun for grownups–Felix, age 7, loves Hearts!
6. Make homemade gifts for upcoming birthdays and holidays. Kids love to make things, and people love to receive homemade gifts from kids. I recently got a framed drawing from my grandson, and I love looking at it on the wall of my office every day! Simple frames make it easy to frame your own stuff at home.
7. Write letters to people who live far away. My grandsons love writing me letters and they love getting a return letter. Cute stationery adds to the fun.
8. Read to each other. Classics are fun to read aloud. I find that good writing is even better when someone reads it to you. My favorite guide to read-aloud books is Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook.
What might you focus on in 2017? We love when our readers share their thoughts and ideas. Please share your ideas or your experiences with resolutions!
To your health,