Adaptive

Humans are pretty resilient.

 I mean, no matter what your mom says, she most likely hit you on the head when you were younger. (It was probably an accident.) And you’re totally not a serial killer now, right? (Right?!)

Right. You turned out just fine. Which made you better because what doesn’t kill you (or makes you a killer) makes you stronger. And that’s great for the bad things. 

But what about the good? People say be careful what you wish for, but I say be careful what you adapt to. Because the old routine that doesn’t seem to change much and that feels comfortable could be the one thing in your life that is really damaging. It makes you stay inside instead of going out with friends because your show is on. It makes you never try anything new at an old restaurant. And believe me, I understand. I would rather be in my pajamas too. But sometimes, it’s not good for us to have the same old, same old. Sometimes, the same routine that you’ve adapted to has bad habits, which is a double whammy. 

You adapted to the routine you have now. I’m sure that in some point in your life you moved, or broke up with a partner, or started a new job, or tried a new ice cream flavor. You pushed your boundaries then and adapted. Push them again and see what happens. 

It’s great that we’re able to adapt. But it’s a very old instinct that needs to take a backseat to you having new and different experiences every once in awhile. You need to unadapt. Your couch will still be there when you get back. 

Resolute/Resolve

So, what are your New Years resolutions?

C’mon, don’t act like you didn’t make them. Don’t pretend like you’re too jaded for the new year. (Although I will admit, you can start to be a new you any day of the week. You really don’t need to start at the new year.)

So, why didn’t you?

I think the biggest reason people don’t make resolutions is that they think they need to “resolve” something. They think they need to start at square 1 and be at square 365 by the end of the year. That everyday needs to be pure progress instead of one step forward and two steps back.

But that’s the nature of things, really. It’s a process, not a one and done. It’s why you should think of yourself as being “resolute” in your resolutions instead of resolving something. Just be firm in what you want to do and you won’t notice that the problem at the end of the year isn’t fixed. You’ll just be happy that you focused on something for a whole year and put your energy into it.

So, what are my resolutions? I have a lot to be “resolute” on, but here’s a couple:

  1. Lose weight

I’m sure that one is no surprise to you, and it’s probably on your list too. The problem is that it’s really generic. You need to set goals and deadlines for weight loss goals, not just say you’re going to do it. Like, I’ll lose 2 lbs. by March 1, etc. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll set your goal really high but will be really happy with any progress at all. For me, I’m going to try to eat less carbs and focus on meat and vegetables as the main part of my diet. (What do you expect? I have two food allergies! There’s not much left!)

2. Learn a new language

Not every resolution has to be about making yourself better. It can just be something you want to do. Focus your energy on learning something specific like a language or a hobby, and you can count your time working toward your goal just by reading about it on Wikipedia. (It’s a lot less strenuous than exercising!)

3.  Notice more

Sure, I can achieve this just by putting down my phone when I’m  walking down the street. But this also means noticing when I’m happy and noticing when my body is sore and when I’m thirsty and when I’m bored and everything around me. Because we internalize a lot of things all day, but when was the last thing you actually noticed something? Really took it in? (I’m hoping this blog will help!)

And that’s it! Have a great year out there! Just remember to be resolute, not resolving!

Don’t Worry, You’re an Octopus

The butterfly has long been the symbol of rebirth and fresh starts. The caterpillar eats its way to a new life, which is an idea that everyone can get behind. Then, it is released from the cocoon, beautiful and new, ready to ride the breeze to its next destination.

Yeah, okay. But does anyone else feel like we need a mascot for new beginnings that’s a little, uhm, sturdier? A little more resilient?

Enter the octopus. Besides being incredibly smart, these creatures have an entire array of self-defense mechanisms. From mimicry to expelling ink, they don’t become prey easily.

And if they do get between a rock and a hard place, if they really need to get away, they have one last resort. They lose an arm. That’s right. They can sacrifice their own arm without suffering any nerve damage. Now, that’s a representative of a fresh start that I can truly believe in. (Although, I can sort of see why losing an arm over gaining beautiful wings is why the butterfly trumped the octopus in the self-help symbol department.)

Of course, if we can’t exactly follow in the octopus’s eight footsteps, we can at least take away a lesson from this ingenious animal.

Because even when it feels like you’ve given all you have, you can still give more. And even when it seems scary to give anything at all, you can take heart in the fact that regrowth is imminent. This is what survival is all about: doing all or nothing.

So, maybe you’d prefer to look at life as a butterfly. Maybe you are waiting for the day that you are able to transform into something better, more acceptable to the world. Something to help you transcend everything, as a butterfly takes flight after its wings dry and unfold their shape.

Or you could look at your life as the octopus does. Making sure that when you are cornered, in danger, you have a way out. And even when most things look bleak, you are ready to fight for your existence. And of course, you always have a final trick up your sleeve (literally, your arm.)

Either way, you’ll survive whatever you’re going through. Whether by flying above it or never letting it take what you hold most dear, you will live, but also, you will thrive.

It’s Not the Years in Your Life

Humans. We’re extending our lives a little more everyday. Doctors actually printed out a 3D heart so that they could save the life of a baby recently. We’re getting closer to immortality all the time. Maybe one day we can defrost Disney, become bionic, and clone our clones.

But being immortal isn’t going to help us live our lives now. In fact, it doesn’t matter how old you are, 9 or 90, you aren’t going to survive for 10 more years or even 100 if you don’t understand this basic principle: there is always time to live up to your potential.

You need to believe that you can start anew at any time. No matter how many times you have failed or how many times you have started over before. You have to know that you can learn or try anything new, at any age. That, just like Madonna, you can reinvent yourself.

I mean, I hear all of the time that children can learn languages quickly. A child’s brain is already mapping new ideas and connections all of the time, so what’s one more English word, one more Spanish phrase?

But what everyone assumes from this fact is that there is a small window that you have to jump through in terms of knowledge. If you don’t do something when you’re young, you will never learn to do it at all. And if you miss the opportunity, well, you miss out. Of course, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Science does not say that we ever stop learning at a fixed point in our lives. We can discover a new language, a new skill, or a new lifestyle at any time, and we absolutely should.

Yes, it may not feel like you have a lot of time on this Earth. And it isn’t fair that we are limited to a lifetime that is synonymous with the blink of an eye on any other planet. But I assure you, you will have plenty of time to write the next award-winning screenplay, the next 700-page tome, the next best chapter of your life. That is, if you start right now and never stop.

I don’t know when you’ll die. It could be tomorrow. And it could be 500,000 tomorrows from now. But I can assure you, if you begin by squeezing every drop out of life, you will never feel as though your time is running out. Just the opposite.