Go Deeper... and Live a Big, Juicy Life

By Marilynn Preston

January 30, 2018 5 min read

All the research circles back to the same fascinating/terrifying conclusion: New Year's resolutions are made to be broken. No one keeps them. It's now a month into 2018: Do you even remember what your resolution was?

I'm pretty sure mine involved potato chips.

Relax! Finger-pointing and guilt-mongering, while still part of my cultural heritage, are wildly counterproductive when it comes to lasting lifestyle change. But I have good news for you: As I wrote in "All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being," failing to stick to a New Year's resolution may not be your fault. It could be the resolution. Maybe it's too shallow for you.

You might do better latching on to a genius's resolution, one that takes you deeper, and leads you to real growth and lasting transformation instead of constant failure (and, in the end, even bigger bags of potato chips).

"At the start of every year, humanity sets to better itself as we resolve to eradicate our unhealthy habits and cultivate healthy ones," Maria Popova reminds us on her splendid literary luscious website, Brain Pickings (http://www.brainpickings.org).

Popova suggests we do what genius's do — create resolutions with more meaning, more depth.

And how do we do that? "Through the refinement of our mental, spiritual and emotional habits — which often dictate our physical ones."

Here are three favorites from Popova's master list of Really Smart People's Resolutions. If you see one that sparks joy, go for it. You've got the next 11 months to remember it... and see what happens.

WALK AND BE MORE PRESENT (Henry David Thoreau)

It's one thing to resolve to walk more. It's a leap forward to challenge yourself to stay in the moment as you walk, without listening to music or audiobooks, without your mind straying to something in the past or future.

To steady your busy mind, focus on your breath. Pay attention to the sounds around you, the pulses within you. Feel the soles of your feet as you take every step.

Why bother? Because, as Thoreau explained 150 years ago in an essay on the spiritual value of walking, walking without presence of mind is a missed opportunity to feel the soul and connect to your essential wildness. (This is why we still read and cherish Thoreau.)

"I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit," he wrote.

Where's your spirit when you walk? To impact your well-being on a deeper level, resolve to be here now. Maybe not every walk, maybe just once or twice a week.


"It's not that we have a short time to live," Seneca wrote about 2,000 years ago, "but that we waste a lot of it." (And this was before 24/7 connectivity to news, sports, games and cute cat videos.)

Many of us coast through our lives "in a trance of passivity and busyness," Popova writes, "mistaking the doing for the being."

Seneca agrees. In his treatise "On the Shortness of Life," he writes, "Putting things off is the biggest waste of time."

Don't squander your time, he advises, because you never know how much you have. "The whole future lies in uncertainty; live immediately."

What if you resolved to "live immediately" in 2018? What are you putting off for later that would make your life richer, more meaningful and satisfying right now?


"Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people," best-selling author Lamott writes in her classic "Bird by Bird."

That inner voice telling you you're not good enough "will keep you scared and restless your whole life if you do not awaken and fight back."

And how do you fight back? Make a lot of mistakes, she writes.

"Put something on your calendar that you know you'll be terrible at, like dance lessons or a meditation retreat."

Don't be so strung out on perfectionism and people pleasing that you forget to have a big, juicy creative life.

What if 2018 is the year you start walking without distractions, live in the present moment and give up your need to be perfect; the year you resolve to see where enthusiasm, curiosity and grace take you?


"The enso contains the perfect and imperfect; that is why it's always complete." — Kazuaki Tanahashi

Marilynn Preston is the author of Energy Express, America's longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new book "All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being" is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at creators.com/books/all-is-well to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit www.MarilynnPreston.com.

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