It’s that time of year when many of us make New Year’s resolutions. Some favorites are to lose weight, stop smoking or spend money more responsibly.  However, I’m going to suggest a different approach. Rather than enter 2018 from a perspective of restraint and denial, why not shift your view to one of abundance?

Consider the philosophy of “flow”. We’ve all experienced being so involved in an activity that we aren’t aware of anything but the experience. Time seems to fly by as we are happily absorbed in what we are doing.  Artists and athletes are among those who consistently report experiences of flow.  While few of us are master musicians, world-class chess players or Olympic athletes, we can become dilettantes happily dabbling in an area that interests us.  By embracing an interest, a hobby or a sport, we create balance in our lives, relieve stress and throw off mood-lifting endorphins.

So this year instead of giving up something, pursue something new or a reignite a past talent you used to enjoy. Here are some thoughts:

Food: explore specific ethnic flavors by seeking out cookbooks, restaurants, and specialty food stores for tastes and cuisines that are specific to a particular culture.

Drinking:  explore coffee, chocolate, wine, beer, or single malt scotch. With coffee you might seek out various origins as well as different roasting techniques. With wine you might decide to focus on one varietal and explore all the regions of the world that produce, say, Sauvignon Blanc. Or pick a region, perhaps Bordeaux, and learn its geography, grape varieties, styles and appellations.

Sports and exercise: what did you enjoy as a child? Team sports or solo exercise? Maybe football doesn’t make sense now, but a softball or bowling league could be fun. Solo exercise could be anything from yoga to billiards. Just make it something you will enjoy, and you’ll look forward to the time spent doing it. This isn’t about losing weight, but about gaining an activity that gives you pleasure.

Music: did you play an instrument or sing in a choir? Did you love rock concerts? Perhaps one of these appeals to you now.

Languages: have you ever wanted to speak a second language? You might start with an adult education course, move on to a private tutor and end up in an Italian immersion course–in Italy.

Art: have you always wished you could paint, dance, act, or write? Or perhaps it’s the appreciation of art that is important to you. We use our eyes every waking moment, but taking the time to actually “see” is a skill to develop.

Games: Chess, Scrabble, Bridge all require concentration and provide socialization. They take you to another zone.

In any of these activities, we begin as a neophyte, become competent, and eventually excel. We literally go with the flow.

So for this year, skip the resolutions.  (How many of those have you actually kept anyway?)  Instead, go find something that you truly enjoy and then go do it!

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