CROYDON COMMENTARY: How’s your New Year’s resolution going? PETER UNDERWOOD (pictured right) doesn’t do them, saying ‘they always seem to be just rules that get broken and forgotten about too quickly’.
Instead, here, in no particular order, he offers 22 suggestions for 2022
I do understand the feeling at this time of year that it’s time to start afresh and make some changes. But instead of resolutions, here are some suggestions for things you might want to try this year.
You don’t have to start all of them straight away. You could have a go at some and then try others later in the year – only one of them is focused on a specific date. It’s 2022, so these are my 22 suggestions…
1 Carry a notebook and pen. I do it so I can write down the things that come into my head that too easily get forgotten. Like when I was trying to write these 22 suggestions. You can also use it to write about anything that brings up a strong emotion – for things that make you sad or angry, it helps that feeling go away and for things that make you happy it helps prolong the good feeling.
2 Pick something natural (like birds, or trees, or plants) and learn the names of the five you see most often. Once you’ve learned those, learn a sixth and so on.
3 Read more poetry. You don’t have to understand it or love every line but read it slowly and try to let the language play on your tongue and in your mind
4 Talk to someone at least 10 years older than you and someone at least 10 years younger than you and listen to what they have to say. Our world is changing fast and it’s important not to lose the good of the old days and to keep up with the changes for the better.
5 Look up. Whether it’s at tree tops, or counting chimneys, or the flats above shops, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you lift your gaze from the floor in front of you and have a look at what’s going on above your head.
6 Get better at being wrong. There is too much focus on always being right, but none of us knows everything and we are human and we all make mistakes. So get better at saying sorry, admitting if you were wrong, or just being honest if you don’t know the answer and asking for help.
7 Smile and say hello to strangers. You don’t have to be weird about it or get involved in a conversation, but it costs you nothing and makes the world a nicer place to be.
8 Do things that get you out of breath. Whether that’s using the stairs instead of the lift or running for a bus or just pushing yourself to do something a bit quicker than normal. Doing little things to get your breathing going and heart rate up all add up to keeping you far healthier.
9 Respect feelings. Yours and other people’s.
10 Sing more. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in the shower, in a choir, or you’re entering Britain’s Got Talent – just open your mouth and let it out.
11 Do something good without getting paid for it. It could be helping out your neighbour, or joining one of the many volunteer groups in Croydon, or just holding a door open for someone struggling to get through. You are a good person and it’s nice to remind yourself of that every so often.
12 Eat less meat and dairy. The amount of meat and dairy most of us eat is unhealthy for us and the demand we create leads to intensive farming practices that are bad for animals and the environment. You don’t have to go vegetarian or vegan, but you might want to try some of those alternatives and you might find you like them.
13 Change your friends. Not all of them but we probably all have a friend or two who we know just wind us up – maybe it’s time to see them less. And most of us will know people that we speak to every so often but we don’t know that well. Try to get to know them better, they could turn out to be good friends.
14 See the sea. Even if it’s just a day trip to Brighton. And maybe even have a paddle. But at some point this year try to get to see the sea.
15 Listen to your breath. Try to find a point every day you can where you just take a moment to listen to yourself breathe. It’s what’s keeping you alive so it’s worth just checking in on how you are doing and thank yourself for doing it.
16 Change the way you vote in elections. Politics doesn’t get any better because political parties tend to rely on the fact that you will do the same thing that you have always done, regardless of who they put up as a candidate or what policies they have. In May we all get to vote for a new Mayor and a new set of councillors. Check out who is standing in your part of Croydon and what they are standing for and vote for the ones who you think are the best. You might end up voting the same way you always do, but at least it will be because you know what you are voting for, not just out of habit.
17 Say thank you more. Whether it is to the bus driver, or to the cashier as you pick up your bags of shopping, or the person has waited to let you through. Whatever someone has done for you, get into the habit of saying “Thank you”.
18 Do something creative. It could be to draw, paint or write. It could be a meal from scratch or a new tune on the guitar. It could be arranging a bunch of flowers in a jar or rearranging the furniture in your living room. Bring something new or different into the world.
19 Cut down on the drugs. Not the medically prescribed ones but the ones we use as props through the day – the cups of strong coffee, the cigarettes, the booze, the high sugar food and drinks. The way we live our modern lives mean our brains and bodies get addicted to far more things than we realise. Try to break some of those addictions.
20 Once it’s safe, make sure you hug and hold hands and shake hands more. For the last two years, covid has kept most of us a distance apart. But humans are naturally social creatures. Only ever do what the other person is comfortable with but, as we are hopefully able to reduce the covid protections, we should get back to literally being in touch with each other.
21 Give someone an unexpected gift. Not for their birthday, or Christmas, or any other gift-giving occasion. We say when it comes to gifts that it’s the thought that counts. Well, make this one of those. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive or even cost you anything at all. It just has to be something that you want to give to someone just because you thought they might like it.
22 Give yourself the gift of happiness. A lot of us spend a lot of our lives working for someone else or caring for other people or just trying to get through the day. Often we forget about doing things just for ourselves. If that’s the case for you, make sure this year you make some time to do something just to make yourself happy. It could be something already on this list or it could be something special to you that really makes you laugh or just puts a smile on your face and gives you that warm feeling inside.
And if you don’t know what that is, then I hope this is the year you find out.
- Peter Underwood is the Green Party’s candidate in the Croydon Mayoral election in 2022
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