New Year, New Outlook
Welcome back to campus!
The spring semester is well underway as we approach the end of January. It’s a time for settling into our new class routines but it is also the time of the month when New Year resolutions have been forgotten, if formed at all.
I forgot to make a resolution – blame it on my age – but I did begin to wonder about the success of this tradition.
Please be advised that I did not fact-check and cannot guarantee accuracy; however, this is what my friend Wikipedia told me: “A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning.”
There is much to be learned from trying and failing. However, for the tradition of yearly resolutions I’ve decided to develop a Revolving Resolution, one that I can carry on year after year. It’s simple and easy to remember: Be good to self; be good to others.
To be intentional in continually working on this goal, I present to you my technique for the year 2016. I call it Gray Thinking. It means consciously choosing not to see the world and others in only black or white.
Examples of using Gray Thinking in being good to self:
- Instead of thinking, “I messed up. I’m so dumb,” I can move away from absolute judgment to the gray by telling myself, “I am human. I made a mistake and that’s OK. I can do better next time.”
- “I can’t do it. I only exercised two days instead of five this week.” Gray Thinking would celebrate the two days and remember that progress does not require perfection.
Using Gray Thinking to be good to others:
- There may be many things I dislike about a particular person. I do not have to be best friends forever with everyone, but I can still show kindness. Think, “What is one thing I can appreciate about ________?” Let that balance me and allow me to speak and act with courtesy.
- Gray Thinking allows me to appreciate gifts in my life and view everyone through a more compassionate lens. Gray Thinking informs me that I might have the very struggles I am so quick to criticize in another if I had to walk in their shoes.
I think the year will be better the more we move away from stark extremes, all or nothing thinking, and learn to value ourselves and others rightly. Give Gray a try. I do not care which shade or how many shades you practice, so long as it helps!