New Year’s resolutions are to blame

After the holidays, I attended a Zoom class on how to keep a visual diary.  Not having kept a diary before, but having received dozens of notebooks as gifts in anticipation of a time I might keep one, I decided to give it a try.

The instructions were to describe your days in a few words and pictures. We were to begin with New Year’s resolutions. Inspired by my notebook with a flamenco dancer on its cover, I chose, “Have more energy” as one goal, and “Expand creativity” as another and created icons in the style of a first-grader to represent both.

Not being able to draw presents problems for a visual diary, but last year, a friend gave me an entire set of PaperMate Ink Joy gel pens and they work nicely for someone who likes to doodle in bright colors.

Shortly after that class, I read an article online about a Yale professor whose course on the Science of Happiness was the most popular class in the history of the university. And anyone could sign up for it.  Wow!  Without a second’s thought I followed the link and signed up to join 300,000 others and take a class from Yale to add to my credentials.  Did I mention that I’m retired and have no need to beef up a resume?

As a proudly enrolled Yale student, I first listened to a brief videotaped lecture, read a couple of articles, completed several surveys seemingly designed to point out one’s character flaws, and thought how pleasurable it was to be an Ivy League student.  

Then I came to the description of the homework—coyly called ‘strategy’– for lesson one. “For the next seven days, work in daily activities that enhance savoring,” and a sense of gratitude.   

You could print out handouts to report on your success, write your responses online, or use paper of your choosing.  Not willing to start another diary, I chose to mingle my homework with my visual diary entries. 

Days passed, and I realized I hadn’t yet savored anything.  One morning, when I’d nearly finished with a shower, I remembered this assignment and made myself hang around for a minute longer to appreciate the hot spray on my back.

But then, the homework became more complicated.  It wasn’t enough to have a savoring moment, you also had to tell someone else about it, take a photo, or share it in some other way. Following that you were to spend five to ten minutes a night writing about the gratitude you felt for events of the day.

The gratitude piece was easier, since it didn’t involve taking a photo of me in the shower, but between my attempts at sharing, drawing and then writing, my evenings were getting shorter. 

Week three has made me consider becoming a Yale dropout. The latest homework is to make one new social connection a day for a week. One example was to chat with a fellow bus rider. Right. And do this while living in a county that requires social distancing and masking everywhere?  I go to the grocery story where I stand six feet behind the person ahead of me in the checkout line, an occasional movie theatre during the hours when no more than ten people show up and it’s dark, and to the Y where I’ve already spoken to everyone who exercises at the same time I do.

For now, I’m certain I will feel happy when the happiness class ends and I have more time for what I was doing before I resolved to become more energetic or creative. For now, my diary holds the secrets to my various assignments, which will be understood only by those who are able to interpret children’s art.



About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
This entry was posted in arts and crafts, luxury of time, personal reflections and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to New Year’s resolutions are to blame

  1. Fred says:

    I enjoyed reading about your Ivy League happiness adventure and your conclusion that you are eagerly seeking the end of the class to restore your happiness. Well done.

  2. Becky moto says:

    You didn’t need this class; you could have taught it. I’ve seen some of your drawings on the fabulous trips you’ve taken, and I love them. Your creativity knows no bounds, m’Dear.

    As for energy, it’s difficult to be active during COVID and extreme weather conditions. But you still do it.

    You are one person who commits to something and truly follows through. Just keep on keeping on, dear one. You have a truly enriched life due to your constant self-evaluation and curiosity about life.

    Happy New Year, Ann.

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. travelnwrite says:

    As one who does regularly keep a journal – handwriting only, no graphics or visuals – I like the idea of jotting down things for which I am grateful as everyday something occurs to me to be grateful for and usually I have forgotten whatever it was by the next day. Memory keeper, it will become!

  4. Darlene Bishop says:

    Well said and I assume well drawn; I’ve seen your artwork and you’re no slouch—sometimes though self help classes just aren’t worth it. Although I was impressed with you becoming a Yale student. —now I have a good friend who enrolled in an Ivy League school—

  5. dkzody says:

    It appears you have been very creative with your pursuits for the first month of 2022. Trying new things leads to more creativity in one’s life.

  6. Joe Gotchy says:

    Chuckled all the way through the read anticipating the ride you were taking us on. Thanks for the share. Some day we’ll talk about those resumes…..and gratitude.

  7. Laura Hodge says:

    LOL – yes, COVID certainly messes with making “new social connections”, or even old ones. I hear Tinder is pretty good!

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