This is more of a note to myself than anything. But I also feel that all of writing is generally more for the writer than the reader, so blah.
I put a lot of stock in New Year’s Resolutions (yes, I know I’m two weeks late. Sorry.). I realized a couple years ago that each year is an opportunity to improve one small aspect of my life. Instead of choosing large, sweeping resolutions that I am unlikely to self-enforce, I pick small, everyday motions that could possibly lead to larger positive outcomes. I usually shortlist a few and then decide upon one, achievable goal. Then, I come up with a few reasons why this goal will improve my life and a few tangible results of the goal.
In 2012, I decided to start eating breakfast every morning. I had realized that the best days I had had thus far had started with a full breakfast. So, on the first of January, I set out to achieve this goal. The only sacrifice was 15-20 minutes of sleep and the benefits were enormous. I found myself waking up earlier because I savored that time with myself, just reading a book with a plate of eggs and a cup of tea. I ended up giving my brain at least two hours to start before class and inevitably made healthier choices during the day. It felt like I was giving my body a hug every morning.
Last year, I decided to target discipline, which I felt (and still feel) I lack(ed). I decided that I was going to start making my bed every morning, no exceptions. My decision coincided with my reading of The Power of Habit, which makes the strong case that it is the small habits that need to be broken for patterns of behavior to change. (My favorite example from the book is one about a square in Egypt where protests were common and sometimes unruly. Rather than increasing security in the square, the police took the expedient measure of banning food carts in and around the square. People dispersed more quickly when there was nothing to eat or drink in the vicinity.)
Small changes make the biggest waves. Since I started my day in an act of organizing and uncluttering, I felt that my productivity increased throughout the day. I was more compelled to pick up a book or stick to a study schedule. The act of making my bed every morning was also a reminder to myself to value what I had and treat it with respect.
Both of these habits have stuck. So moving on to this year’s resolution. Of course, I have been influenced by my last few months in India. It is impossible not to see the deficits and the great need of a great many people here. And it is also impossible not to admire their common-sense thrift. If you buy a glass bottle of soda from a local vendor, you must stand there, finish the bottle, and then return it. That is recycling. Water conservation means filling a small bucket with water and using only that much to bathe. Clothes and toys are passed from person to person. Plastic bags are used several times over. You’ll be hard pressed to find a piece of paper that doesn’t have writing on every inch of it before being thrown out. Conservation is not a fad here; it is an unspoken reality.
So I’ve decided to try and implement this attitude in my life in small ways. Turning off the shower while lathering and using perfectly good scraps of paper are small things I can do to remind myself that I am not the only person in the world that needs and uses these resources. I think I need to remind myself more often that I am not the only person here.