06272017Headline:

The Power of Self-Indulgence

By Piper Bayard

Nicotine patches are flying off the shelves and personal trainers are working overtime as every gym across the nation fills with the January Resolutioners.

People on treadmills at gym US Air Force wikimedia

image from US Air Force, wikimedia commons

The Resolutioners are easy to spot, and their shelf life is plastered all over their approach.

The overweight guy who’s straining to press his maxed-out set of three? He’s done now because he just hurt himself. The lady sitting on the mat, looking around for someone to talk to between her two sets of ten stomach crunches? She’s out January 4th. January 5th if she’s with a friend. But the aging realtor in the power training class who ran out, vomited, and came back? She’s the one to watch. Ask her name. She’ll have the bikini bod by July. The difference? She wants to be there.

The hard fact is that people do what they want to do. Period. Most resolutions are about “should,” and shoulds never pan out.

Here’s an example for you. I took an aikido class where I was almost the only woman with a lot of hot babes. None of them smoked. I did. When faced with the gorgeous, clean-living martial arts hunks, I was ashamed of that fact. I decided I needed to either quit smoking or come to terms with it. Since quitting was difficult, and I didn’t like difficult, I chose to make peace with my choice.

I watched myself objectively. I discovered that I began by justifying the cigarette. Then I lit up and enjoyed the first third of it. That’s when the self-recrimination kicked in. . . . Why can’t I just quit? Those hunka hunka aikido guys would never want an ashtray-mouth like me. . . . I vowed it was my last cigarette forever and felt strong for a while because, in the words of an old friend, “Junkie always strong afta he fix.”

Since my resolution was to smoke proudly, like Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not, I short-circuited that cycle at the point of self-abuse and turned off the negative talk. I told myself to just smoke or don’t. It worked, but not like I thought it would.

When I used smoking to beat myself up, I felt like a loser. When I felt like a loser, I had an excuse to fail in all of my goals. Beating myself up was a way of abdicating my responsibility to do my best in this life, right now, today. When I removed that self-abuse, I no longer had the Lame Loser Excuse. Smoking lost its appeal. It became nothing more than a dispassionate choice. I chose to quit and never looked back. Good thing since I could never afford it now.

Since then, my only resolution has been to do what I want. I vowed to be a secretary forever if I wanted. One year later, I started law school. I vowed to eat all the sweets I wanted. I lost 30 pounds. I vowed to only write when I wanted. I now have two bestselling novels to my credit.

That’s because something deep inside each of us wants what’s best for us. If we surrender to that voice, we rise above self-destruction.

Chocolate donut John wikimedia

image by John, wikimedia commons

In that spirit, these are my 2016 resolutions:

  1. I will eat all the donuts I want. Especially chocolate donuts.

  2. I will sleep in any time I want instead of going to the gym.

  3. I will yell at my children whenever I want. (Looking forward to that one.)

  4. I will buy every pair of shoes I want, even the ones that don’t fit well and serve no purpose.

  5. I will only write when I want.

And as for the January Resolutioners at the gym? Good for you! I’m rooting for you and hoping you will only come to the gym when you want. I’m hoping you will want often, and that I will see you on the beach in July.

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Piper Bayard is an author and a recovering attorney. Her writing partner, Jay Holmes, is an anonymous senior member of the intelligence community and a field veteran from the Cold War through the current Global War on Terror. Together, they are the bestselling authors of the international spy thriller, THE SPY BRIDE, now available on kindle and in paperback at Amazon and on nook and paperback at Barnes & Noble.

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