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The Gift of Kindness

The month of December always reminds me of that last, panicked night before an essay is due – the same assignment I was given months and months ago, but which I decided to leave to the last minute to get done.

It’s an awful situation to be in, and yet I find myself in it time and time again – particularly with personal goals. And now we’re well into December, which feels a bit like judgment month for the personal goals I set for myself at the beginning of the previous year. Soon, New Year’s Day will hit and I’m back to square one, setting new goals for the coming year and deciding that this time around things will be different.

As a self-critical entity, it’s easy to get caught in a mindset of self-blaming when I don’t stick to my routines, rather than a reflective mindset where I examine what went wrong, and what I can do next time to accommodate it. My goals related to fitness and nutrition, for example, can manifest inside me as battles I’m fighting against myself, almost as if I need to “trick” my mind and my body into conforming to what I think they “should” be.

Frankly, I can be a little bit mean to myself.

So for this holiday season and next year I’ve made a decision: I’m giving myself the gift of kindness.

Typically, an act of kindness is understood as something we do for another person. But just as it’s important to be kind to the people in our lives, it’s also important to be kind to ourselves: kind to our minds, kind to our bodies, and kind to the world we live in.

Making lifestyle choices and goals based on being kind to ourselves helps to set us up for success. While the ultimate goal may be similar to how we might otherwise have framed it, adjusting our approach and our mindset to a kinder one can make the goal more realistic, holistic, and sustainable.

Take goals related to getting fit: These are common new year’s resolutions many of us have set for ourselves for the upcoming year. While the intention of a goal related to getting fit might be good, sometimes our get-fit goals are unkind. They may be related to self-critical feelings about our bodies and our minds, and as a result, the way we go about achieving them can be through unkind methods – like crash diets that harm us and workout regimes our bodies aren’t ready for.

For 2015, I won’t be designing my personal goals based on what I think I “should” look like or I “should” feel like; I’ll be designing them based on getting healthier, stronger, and more aware, because that’s the kindest thing I can do for my body, my mind, and the world I live in.

How will you be kind to yourself this holiday season and beyond into 2015? Share your thoughts here, or on the AHAALiving Facebook and Twitter pages.

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