My niece Cassidy
My niece Cassidy wrote “Be kinder.”

My 11-year old niece scribbled down “Be kinder” as her #1 New Year’s resolution.  The next day, her father promised her a guinea pig and she was so excited.  “You know what that means, right?” I asked.  She paused, blinked and said, “Yeah, I better be kind.  I really want a guinea pig.”

She asked me about my #1 New Year’s resolution.  “Let go more,” I replied.  “Every day.  And be kinder.”  She giggled and said “Hey that’s mine!”  Then she got serious and asked, “Only at the beginning of the year?”  and I laughed. Should we be kinder and let go and all that stuff every day?

When my husband and I traveled to Turkey in August for our one-year anniversary, we met an American couple also celebrating their anniversary:  50th! They were a cute couple who still held hands.

“What’s your secret?  Any advice?” we asked them.  He was quiet for a few seconds and then said, “I think you have to let go and accommodate.”  She nodded and said, “Our first year was the hardest.  And we’ve had our ups and downs but I think the first year is tough because we were still trying to figure each other out.”

I agree.  Our first year has been fantastic yet hard work — lots of traveling, talking and evenings in watching movies.  We’ve been learning more and more about each other.  It’s like taking a university course on the other person and not realizing that the course doesn’t ever really end.  But the midterms can be hard.

In 2013, I asked a number of people what their best piece of advice on marriage and here’s what they said:

-don’t sweat the small stuff

-be honest:  sometimes he can cook a better omelette than you

-after a fight, no matter what, let go of the anger and hug

-you don’t have to always be right

Notice they all fall into the same categories of “be kind” and “let go”?  And I’m convinced that apart from the usual New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and exercise more, people essentially set goals that also have the same themes.  We all want to let go more, be happier and treat each other better.  Hard stuff but it’s so worth it!

One quick story before I sign off:  years ago, I came across a Tibetan monk who shared that the greatest pain we feel is when we hold onto anger, jealousy and expectation.  He reminded me of the Buddhist philosophy that we are like the water that flows around a rock in a fast moving river.  You can’t get stuck – you have to keep going, let go, move on and believe that things are meant to be as they are.

What is your New Year’s resolution?  Write it down…I’m curious to know.

The guinea pigs arrived today!
My nieces got their guinea pigs today!