Friday, January 3, 2014

Are there 28 things I should do instead of getting engaged/married before I turn 28?

All the rage lately are these lists of "[Number] of Things to Do Instead of Getting Married at [Age, which is the same as Number]" or some variation thereon. At least two (three) of these posts emerged in response to this one. I'm not sure why some folks of my generation decry marriage as the end of life. (Maybe it's Timon's fault...) On the other hand, I'm not sure why others think life doesn't begin until you're in a stable, committed relationship. I don't hold to either of these ideas.

Coming up on 28, I've had a pretty good run so far. I won't regale you with a list of my accomplishments to date because, well, I'm not a high school student applying to college. (And who wants to read that anyway?) Neither will I deny that I haven't accomplished everything I hope to do in my lifetime, and I'm certainly not married yet. I hope marriage is a part of that lifetime sometime, but I'm not going to stop living now just because it's now a part of my life right now. (For the record, I also don't plan to stop living once I do marry, whenever (if) that happens.)

The blogs I mention read kind of like bucket lists at times, but this isn't one of those. For lack of a better term, these are some of my New Year's Resolutions. (A friend of mine resolved not to make any resolutions because this time of year isn't good for his resolve.) My list of resolutions includes a host of what I'll call "life fixes". (I don't have a better name for them right now. Do you have any ideas?) Instead of setting concrete goals, although I have those as well, I resolve to make choices and develop habits to improve my overall being.

*Connect more with the people in my life. Write monthly to the children I sponsor. Exchange letters with friends. Call my family more.

*Celebrate happiness. Last year, I had a happiness bucket for a hot minute. Now I have a happiness wall.
2.27 update: My sticky notes didn't stick to the wall. It's a happiness vase now. It's working:

Look at all that happiness in just two months!
*Be less critical when criticism is unasked or not constructive. This is particularly in relation to criticism from a distance, criticism of people I don't know, and criticism to make myself feel superior. (Hello, character flaw! Let's root you out!)

*Compliment others generously (and genuinely).

*Invest in people's lives. Ask how things are going. Follow up about projects, transitions, etc. Be present!

*Spend less time comparing my happiness/success with that of others.

Basically, it's all about being a decent, loving human being to myself and to the rest of humanity. If you're present in my life, I hope you'll hold me accountable. If we're not connected on a personal level, I hope you find something in this list worth applying to your own life. If you're inspired, I hope you'll connect through the comments and share your own "life fixes".

Whatever your marital status, age, or number of things to do,
here's to being present in 2014! I'm glad I'm here with you.

At 27, I went kayaking for the first time!
[with Sarah and Ryan (and also Mallory, who is taking the picture)]