I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions. They’re usually for things that are lofty but not achievable and often fail within the first few weeks. But I’ve been thinking about a couple of things that are kinda resolution-like. Both are more of an experiment than a resolution.
First, I’m thinking about not drinking. I already don’t drink a whole lot. I’ve just been noticing that it never makes anything that much better and always feels far worse afterwards. I quit caffeine for the same reasons, so why not alcohol? True, I do like a nice glass of wine with dinner, and I suppose that’s part of the sacrifice. If I’m going to say “I don’t drink” the same way I say no to caffeine, I’d better make it a true statement.
Similarly, I’m thinking about not dating for a year. I’ve already closed my OKC account because after 5 years the only lasting friendship that came out of it likely would have happened through other means. The forced context and all of the pressure is only part of the problem. In the bigger picture, I think I’d rather focus on better connections with my friends and family, and spend less time on strangers rather than more.
The Power of a Positive No describes a “positive no” as one that’s backed by a greater yes. I think this is the part that I haven’t explained nearly as well as I should have. The “yes” that underlies my goal for this year is to forge and sustain better and stronger relationships with the people I care about. I want to see the good parts in the people around me and appreciate their company. I want to surround myself with the people that I like being around. I can’t do that if looking for “the one” is my top priority.
Much worse than that, I find that when I have dating as a priority, I end up evaluating the people I meet by whether or not they’re dating material. It’s like there’s a constant background thread that’s looking out for potential matches. If it just stopped with keeping my eyes open, that would be ok. But that’s not what happens. I’m exceedingly goal oriented, and so this background thread ends up changing behaviour and guiding decisions. This is the part that I truly want to say no to: evaluating other people in terms of their worth to me on a romantic scale.
Just saying that I’m not going to go on dates doesn’t get away from this mode of thinking, but it does provide a means to get there. It’s still early days as yet, but on the good days I’m finding it easier to simply appreciate the people around me – both men and women – and be just a little more genuine. On the bad days I have to remind myself a few times that I’m not playing this game any more, and let go of these thoughts the same way I do other unwanted thoughts while in meditation. Sometimes that even works.
In Buddhist terms, I suppose I’m taking non-striving as an approach to relationships. In Zen they say that everything is practice, which means that relationships are fair game. This year, my practice will be more focussed on people and specifically on non-striving. I’ll let you know how that goes.
In the mean time, I’m looking forward to spending time with friends and family more and strangers less. I won’t turn down opportunities to meet new people, but I won’t be seeking that out nor seeking for those new connections to be anything specific. I’m looking forward to seeing the goodness in people without putting it through the filter of what it means to me or any romantic context.