Seminars on philosophy are not that common in a gym. Yesterday at Nicky’s yoga class, as we lay there stretching legs up to the ceiling, she was encouraging us to be more compassionate to ourselves, and not strive too hard. That is her New Year Resolution, to be more compassionate and tolerant, and not so self-critical and expecting perfection.
Resolutions are usually goal driven. We set targets, such as losing ten pounds in weight, or not drinking for a month. The trouble with that approach is that we are defined by success or failure in achieving it. It sets an ideal that we then measure ourselves against. Psychologists call this discrepancy monitoring, and it can be damaging to our moods.
Nicky was encouraging us in yoga not to compare our postures with other people’s and push too hard. Getting deeper into a posture is satisfying, but getting deeper than your neighbour on the mat is not – next week you will have a different neighbour who may be more flexible than you. I now enjoy yoga much more by exploring my own boundaries rather than aspiring to things I will never achieve. Yoga helps keep me fit, but it is the yoga itself I enjoy.
So, perhaps resolutions should be more forgiving, and be about directions of travel rather than a place we would rather be. Instead of setting a goal to lose weight, perhaps we should aim to eat more healthily , and accept that now and again we will not. Or maybe aim to enjoy more walks rather than run a marathon.
So, this year I will aim to eat more healthily, continue to enjoy yoga, and not worry about whether I will ever be able to do a wheel or hand stand. And maybe pick up a little more philosophy from the gym – thank you Nicky.