Putting resolutions in perspective

As my family and I watched the Times Square commotion on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve this year, we raised our glasses of Champagne/Martinelli’s sparkling cider to toast 2014 as another exciting and busy year.

And, with the hum of Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy in the background, we all gathered around to all share our resolutions and I had to decide what mine would be.

By the end of December, I always feel a surge of motivation for self-improvement. I vow, “I will exercise more! I will give up desserts! I will not procrastinate!” Needless to say, these thoughts dominated as the hours of 2013 started ticking down. So, seated around friends and family on December 31, I repeated these resolutions taking on a desire to read more and spend less time on Instagram and Facebook.

New Year’s resolutions are all too often projected inward: They relate (mostly) to renovating and improving your physical self. This year is different. I wanted to do more than just make superficial resolutions. So this year I vow to do more random acts of kindness in 2014.

Let’s face it: Are you really planning to do those 10-mile runs every day that you vowed to do as the clock struck 12 on January 1? Didn’t think so.

A few weeks ago I was in New York City with a few friends and a mom. She handed all of us some money and told us that part of our holiday season should include the performance of “random acts of kindness,” specifically using the money in any way to benefit someone else. She explained how earlier in the day she had purchased the coffee for the woman in line behind her. We enthusiastically followed her lead.

I have decided to keep this tradition going throughout 2014. Instead of spending money on new fitness apps for my ill-fated “year of exercise,” I will brighten someone else’s day by offering a helping hand, holding a door or even just simply giving a smile.

Giving up sugar, carbs, dairy or gluten for 2014? Here lies the perfect opportunity to instead donate those foods, perhaps dropping them off at a local food bank. Neighbor-to-Neighbor, the Carver Center and many other local organizations will happily accept donations.

Cleaning out your bedroom for a fresh 2014? Pass your gently worn items to someone who might need them. That bedazzled pink unicorn T-shirt may not be your weekend go-to, but someone else may be delighted by it.

Trying to spend less time watching TV? Spend more time helping out. Work at community service events hosted by your school or your church. I know it is hard to get out of bed on a Saturday morning, but it is always worth it.

Convent of the Sacred Heart urges me to pursue these random acts of kindness even more throughout the year. Our school lives by its five goals and criteria that motivate its students to become mature and benevolent adults. One of these goals is a “personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom,” which becomes the basis of my 2014 resolution.

Instead of relaxing and spending my junior-year downtime (if it even exists) watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix, I will persevere to follow Goal 5 by volunteering at Montefiore Children’s Hospital in the Bronx as a part of my interscholastic student-run club or working at the Saturday’s at Sacred Heart program to support underprivileged children from local communities. The opportunities are endless, as are the rewards.

So let’s make 2014 the year of random acts of kindness. Drop the narcissism, and pick up the philanthropy. Maybe you’ll even find that giving back to those who really need it feels much better than that juice-cleanse after all.

 

Sarah Jackmauh is a junior at Convent of the Sacred Heart.

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