For Christmas I was delighted to receive Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin. So delighted, in fact, that I read it on my journey back to London. I inhaled that book and look forward to reading it again soon. She focuses on habits- the hows and whys and how to use them to your advantage. Some people can find her a little prescriptive, but I find her method of discussing her own habits and reasons quite enlightening. I find the examples more useful to me than generic instructions. I’ve started brushing my teeth whilst standing on one leg to work on my balance because it never would have occurred to me until I read it in her book.
I haven’t made new year’s resolutions for 2016. My thinking is that Project Adult is probably enough. That being said, having read about it in her original Happiness Project, I do have a Word for the Year, which she describes as “one idea, summarized in just one word, as an overarching theme for the entire year”
This year, my word is BETTER. It encompasses improvement, without putting the pressure of definite goals or deadlines. So far, I’ve eaten some fish and drank tonnes of water (eat BETTER), deliberately not stressed about a particular friendship that is rocky (feel BETTER), helped a friend with her children (do BETTER) and put back a pair of impractical black shoes, but bought a pair of jeans (shop BETTER) amongst other things. They aren’t revolutionary, but they’re helping me be better than before.
I’m also looking at situations slightly differently now. I look at them and think about my usual way of handling things and try and think through how that would work out. I don’t want to do things in a similar way for the rest of my life. I want to do things better (which, as a sentence, feels terrible, but that’s the base principle!). Before I do something now, I take a moment to think through what I usually do, how it usually works out, how I usually feel and try and see if I can do something different to improve the outcome. Sometimes I put the dessert back. Sometimes I buy the striped v-neck jumper. Sometimes I send that message now rather than put it off. Sometimes I stay away from the internet for a day or so. It’s felt better.
The rocky friendship I mentioned? Before, I would have fallen over myself to “fix” the situation and pretend it was fine like a good little people-pleaser, but now I’m not doing that. My friend and I haven’t had a falling out- he knowingly did something that annoyed me and then disappeared for months. He got in touch as though nothing were wrong and, for a change, I didn’t let it go smoothly for him. I explained why I hadn’t contacted him and he apologised for a different reason. He’s disappeared again and I’m not chasing after him. My friend isn’t valuing me or my opinion, as is his right, but I also don’t have to pretend to be alright about it. It feels better that I’m not doing the heavy lifting in the friendship at the moment. He broke it, he can fix it. And he isn’t fixing it. He’s not even trying to fix it. I feel BETTER for having realised that and not putting in unnecessary energy and emotional effort.
I want to be a BETTER adult, the word BETTER is helping.