The first day of a New Year. There’s an undeniable pressure to celebrate it the ‘right’ way. After all, the 1st has always been rich in ritual. Unlike every other holiday, however, this one has no prescribed customs. You could be spending the day nursing a hangover, thanks to last night’s joyful excesses. Or by doing 45 energetic suryanamaskars on the beach. Here are MetroPlus’ suggestions on how to make today memorable, and pave a path for a fulfilling year ahead
Get stronger Don’t fall for the old fat trap. That ponderous old set of resolutions you make ever year: I will lose weight. I will work out. I will eat less dessert. We both know you’ll be tucking into a double chocolate chip cookie before the day is over. So how about approaching the issue from a different angle this year? Resolve to get stronger, fitter and healthier.
Join a sports team — football, basketball, hockey — and make a commitment to play at least twice or thrice a week. Or sign up for dance classes. Or start learning a martial art. Not only will this ensure you get some exercise, but it will also motivate you to get fitter. An added incentive? Activities like this expand your social circle, and when you’re surrounded by fit people, you automatically eat and work out more responsibly.
As for today? How about starting with a run. Put on your headphones, crack up the music and explore the city. Finally. A high that isn’t followed by a hangover.
System maintenance There’s a lot of baggage from the past that you shouldn’t carry into the New Year. Turn on your computer, open your email, sort out all the stuff you want to focus on and stuff you want to forget and put in the right folders. Maybe some photos you don’t want to see. Some memories which need to be locked away. Don’t delete them. Put them all in a folder and hide it in some remote location. Resolve not to open this memory chest. Maybe some day many, many years later.
Now, do the same with your phone. All those fights, arguments and unpleasant exchanges must be deleted. In fact, start afresh with friends you have lost over the year. No better time to make up than today. Write a line or two about what they mean to you instead of the regular Happy New Year messages. Or better still, call the friend and tell him/her you’re sorry. Even if there’s nothing you are sorry about, you are sorry you are not friends anymore, right? Even better, meet them for a drink. Today. As they say, the first day of the rest of your life.
Make a wish-list The first step towards going places is figuring out where you want to go. Okay, but we are not talking about chasing intangible dreams and setting up goals here though you could do that as well. We’re talking literally. You have 365 days of adventure waiting for you, more if you are able to plan where you want to go and when is the best time you would be able to take time out for it during the year. For example, there’s The Goa Project on February 7 and 8. It’s a weekend. And it’s in Goa. That’s a quick getaway. Or maybe you want to save Goa for the International Film Festival of India in November last week instead. Or the Sunburn festival there in December.
Which friend or cousin is getting married and in which part of the world? Here’s an opportunity to plan your holiday around that. Not only do you get to show how much they mean to you by showing up there but you also get to explore places around that you would otherwise not get a chance to see. Going to Mangalore, take a couple of days more to explore the hills — Coorg or Chikmagalur or Sakleshpur. Going to Kochi, take a couple of days more to stay in a houseboat and float around the Kerala backwaters. Put photos of these places on your calendar. Anytime you are stressed, just look at that calendar. The thought of these wonderful places waiting to be explored will cheer you up.
Learn to give: Unhappy with life? Spend some time at a local hospital, old age home or orphanage, and you’ll quickly appreciate what you have. Start the New Year by volunteering with a charity that you believe in, more for your sake than theirs. While it’s culturally established that giving a percentage of your time, money and talent to charity is important, what many people don’t realise is how rewarding it can be for the giver. So pick a cause that you believe in, run by people you have faith in. It could be a local charity. Or an animal shelter. Or an outreach programme. It’s never been easier to find a cause. From the Waste Warriors, who dedicate their time to cleaning up India to elephant sanctuary projects, if you do some research you can zone in on specific charities that interest you. Many of these are run on shoe-string budgets, and stay afloat only because of a handful of hardworking, dedicated people. Consider it your responsibility to help out. Even hundred rupees of an online donation, while booking a movie ticket, is a start.
Write a letter: To yourself. What is Future You trying to tell Present You today? Close your eyes. Think of it as Time Travel. How do you see yourself in the near future? How awesome or miserable is your life down the road? Maybe it’s time for course correction. You have a chance to set things right. What is most important to you? Is Present You on the right track? Quickly, write a letter to your present self before the time-space wormhole shuts and you have lost your memories of these glimpses of the future. This letter could save your life.
Write everything you see and advise yourself on what you should do this year. Starting this moment, starting now. Anytime you are lost during the year, open this letter and read it. It will help you find focus.
Embrace your inner hippy: “You are meant to have an amazing life.” There’s a reason Rhonda Bryne’s books, triggered by The Secret film, have been so successful. That sentence from her second book, The Power, explains it. 2013 was the year of the new age guru exhorting everyone to ‘think positive’. From Bryne to Jack Canfield (of Chicken Soup For The Soul) to ‘Life Coach’ Anthony Robbins, the message was the same.
Now, we don’t want you to dissolve into an eddy of batik, flower garlands and John Lennon music. But the New Age gurus do have some valid points. Don’t worry. We aren’t going to go all Oprah on you, or send you into that dreaded ‘self-help’ book aisle. After a year of interviews with various writers and thinkers, here’s the gist of it: Positive expectancy. And the power of gratitude. Start by making a list of everything you are thankful for today.