Seven Paradoxical Intentions for the New Year

Reduce Food Waste
With all good intentions, the majority of people throw away a largesse of wilted produce and other perishables throughout the month. While we may wish to food prep: beautifully prepared Tupperwares stacked in the refrigerator ready to take to work or put in the microwave and oven are usually a rarity or intermittent. In reality, an astounding amount of food is wasted by most households. If you go to your local South Asian, Latinx, Korean, or Caribbean markets, you will greet the same families almost day after day shopping for fresh dinners. Planning smaller meals on a more frequent basis may be antithetical to the genuinely beautiful products of Costco and big box stores. I’ve never known anybody who used 2 pounds of lettuce… ever.

Be Bad, Mindfully
If you are going to spend the weekend binging a series, sitting in your pajamas, eating the whole pizza, sleeping the day away, or drinking delicious libations, do it. Do it without beating yourself up. Do it without feeling guilty and do it without feeling guilty about feeling guilty. We are the only species that feels anxiety about having anxiety. Never in the history of time have I ever met anybody who improved their mental health by hating on themselves. Hedonic pleasure is short-term. Guilt hangs around.

Say no, simply and politely
“Thank you for thinking of me. I’m not going to be able to do it. It sounds like a lovely idea”. It is the sandwich. + – +
You don’t need a lot of other condiments.

Be a Baby
Let yourself have some moments when you get to cry, whine, and complain. Send yourself to your room, shut the door, get under your softest blanket and feel sorry for yourself. When you emerge from your self imposed timeout, you will feel better.

Express Wonder
When you see something really cool, something that you want to learn, somebody who is amazing, the gorgeousness of nature, the utter cuteness of your child or companion animal, the radiance of a friend, say it. The psychologist Maslow called it the ‘Peak Experience’. Parents of young kiddos say to me, I am reliving the beauty of the things that are familiar through my child’s eyes. Remember when you first went to Disney World and it was the Magic Kingdom, not overpriced everything, long lines, grumpy families, and cynicism. Wow is still possible. We forget to see it.

Enjoy the Simple
If you have a delicious cup of coffee in the morning, see your dog’s tail wagging joyfully because you’re home, enjoy the warmth of clean clothes from the dryer, listen to your favorite song, delve into a new book, turn over and go back to sleep because you can, or take in the scent of your beloved, it matters. Collect them.

Reduce Judgment
I have been serving a community shelter and food kitchen for over a decade, Washington DC. One of the first times I served food there, I had a humbling learning experience. I brought copious amounts of delicious curries and home made roasted chicken, as well as buckets of Popeyes, extra crispy, picked up on the way in. The Popeyes rapidly disappeared while my biryani remained forlorn for some time. An experienced volunteer said to me: don’t judge people what gives them pleasure. It’s important to remember that. We need pleasure.

These intentions might seem simple. They are a practice.
Related, see Stones Across the River.

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