1. Remember to have fun. Be silly. Do the chicken dance with your friends, dig your toes in the sand, run barefoot across the grass. Hold hands under the table at family lunches with your wife of sixteen years. Buy yourself flowers. Tickle a baby, pet a dog, kiss a cat. Read, listen to music, dance, and drink all the wine that you want. Keep up with your responsibilities, sure, but don’t lose yourself somewhere along the way.
2. Start making lists. The people who love you, the people you love. Your favourite ice cream flavours, your least favourite flowers. The number of kids who hug you at the orphanage where you volunteer, the colours in the evening sky. You’ll suddenly have much to live for, much more to be grateful for. And once you do, make a list about it too.
3. Be kind. Altruism isn’t an idealistic fantasy. Be kind to the man with a Rolex in his fancy car, and not just to the old lady who needs help with her shopping bags. Be kind because you want to, not because it makes you feel good about yourself. And if it doesn’t come naturally to you, then try till you get there, till it becomes second nature.
4. Eat that cookie dough. Eat the last slice of pizza. Eat salad leaves, by all means, but eat the french fries too. Slow down and savour the way you light up the room with your presence. Think about the space you take up in this world, and make it meaningful. Skinny bodies are all too common in a world that is taught to worship thinness; fat hearts are not – in starving our bodies, we’re forgetting to feed our souls. And in the process of doing this, remember not to shame people who are thin for being thin, either.
5. Remember that selfishness is not the same as self love. One consumes your spirit, while the other cleanses you soul. Be smart enough to figure out which is which.
6. Focus on being a better you than you were last year instead of being a new you. You’ll end up making far more progress than you ever thought was possible, and it will be far less exhausting. Someday, halfway down 2016, you’ll pause and realize that the person you’ve always wanted to be is already here – and they’re pretty damn fantastic.
If all else fails though, remember how to make lists: add another bullet point, mark off the next new year, and you’re good to go.
Tanvi Deshmukh is a nineteen year old girl from Pune, India, with an affinity for words and books, cats and coffee, Nepalese food and hippie music, and the colour green (along with Oxford commas). Currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in English, she loves poetry, volunteers at an NGO and plays the keyboard in her free time. Along with devouring books of all kinds, unless of course, she’s in the middle of heated discussions on feminism, patriarchy, gay rights, or what to name the neighbour’s new dog.