Once upon a time, some genius somewhere came up with the idea of what people should lose in the New Year, as opposed to what they could gain.
The same schlemiel decided people should focus on their bad qualities and what they needed to change, as opposed to their strengths and their wonderful attributes.
The new year is not about what you need to lose in the next year – weight is always stressed – but what you need to gain.
Perhaps people should focus on their abilities and what they are successful at, rather than start the new year beating up on themselves worrying about “conventional” definitions of beauty and success.
According to the dictionary, “convention” is “based on or in accordance with general agreement, use, or practice.”
My thoughts – how dull to be like everyone else. Be unconventional – don’t focus on your flaws as you start the new year. Focus on your talents instead.
The Israeli film A Matter of Size is about a group of people trying to lose weight how they always feeling terrible about themselves. They find out about the Japanese sumo culture, which embraces bigger people and focuses on strength and ability.
The film sends a powerful message about self-esteem in a world where people are often made to feel bad about themselves because of their size.
I don’t know which marketing geniuses came up with the idea that we all need to be perfect, and wear the same brands and be carbon copies of one another. But, I know they must be laughing all the way to the bank.
I find conventional people who try to look and act perfect and play by all the rules that society dictates terribly boring and to be avoided at all costs. And yes, I complain bitterly when I am forced to waste time with dull people, as I would rather stay home with a good book.
The only thing I learn from these people is what I don’t want to be like.
Instead of starting a new year focusing on the negative, my thought is to focus on the positive, on following your passions.
In 2011, my resolution was to “make every day count,” which meant for me, not to just simply let the day fly by and disappear, but to try to the best of my abilities to recognize I have the ultimate present – and try to live in it.
My sister, Audrey, asked me to explain, “Do you mean that if you take a nap that is making the most of your day?” I laughed and nodded my head, “Sure, if taking a nap was on the list, then why not make it the best nap.”
One of my dreams was going to Petra, Jordan. While the world was watching the Arab spring and most tourists were completely avoiding the region, if not running in the opposite direction, I explored the ancient, lost city.
The time I spent in Petra was a mystical experience, as I was so enchanted that I could feel the energy of years past. I could almost hear the people who had lived there, and history came alive for me. It was magical also because I had followed my dreams and passions.
This past year, I travelled around the world, through the deserts of Israel and Jordan and to the romantic cities of Paris, and Rome and Florence, Italy. I had terrifying experiences with friends racing at 150 miles a hour in the snow-covered Slovenian alps in June and even found myself on top of the world in the Arctic Circle in Alaska.
I pursued my dreams of exploring the world and understanding new cultures. I read great books, met fantastic new people and, most importantly, spent time with people I love.
New years are markers, a time to reflect and think about how to make yourself happier, and focus on what you want to do to make your world and the world a better place.
It is a time to make a list of all the new skills you want to gain or skills you would like to improve, to open your mind to new places, faces, adventures and, most importantly, to open your heart to the beauty in yourself and the world.
Be bold. Don’t be afraid to go for your dreams and make them come true. Don’ t let negative, hurtful people from your past rule your present.
Focus on what you are great at. Don’t be afraid to try out new activities or go for a new career – you might not make it on your first try, but why not at least give it a go. You might just surprise yourself with your abilities.
In the book Start-Up Nation, The Story of Israel’ s Economic Miracle, authors Dan Senor and Saul Singer talk about why Israel has so many successful companies.
In one example, they cite a 2006 Harvard University study that shows that “entrepreneurs who have failed in their previous enterprise have an almost one in five chance of success in their next startup, which is a higher success rate than that for first-time entrepreneurs and not far below that of entrepreneurs who have had a prior success.”
So instead of losing yourself in 2012, maybe you should love yourself. Take smart risks and take little steps to make your dreams come true.
I’ve always appreciated the words of the great actor and comedian Lucille Ball: “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. Your really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”