New Year’s resolutions are great for many people. I’m not one of them.
For me, New Year’s resolutions seem to come with a get-out-of-jail-free card. Invariably, two weeks into that new diet, that exercise routine, that tidy bedroom, and it’s back to square one. Ending in shrugged shoulders and an, “Oh well, maybe next year.”
That doesn’t mean there aren’t many things I could or should change about myself. In fact, the list is very long. And it would take many new years to work my way through it.
I recently watched a TED Talk about mindfulness and gratitude. I have watched many of these talks, but this one—Louie Schwartzberg—blew me away. It sparked in me the closest thing to a resolution that I will have ever made.
The good news is that the advice was nothing new. Being aware is something that I not only practice in my life, but that I also preach in my work: mindful parenting.
Over the years I have met hundreds of parents. Some are helpless, some are stuck, some are misguided, some are uber-confident. And I’ve discovered that the most effective parents share one trait: they are mindful. Mindful parenting starts with keeping your eyes wide open. It’s like the flower’s growth revealed by time-lapse photography—your children blossom before your eyes every day, but only if you tune in.
Parenting effectively is an outgrowth of acting in thoughtful and deliberate ways. Mindful parents think about what they do and say—they don’t shoot from the hip. You know those times when you open your mouth and out pops your father and the exact words you swore you would never spew?
It doesn’t mean that your deliberate actions will necessarily yield the desired behavior from your child. (We are talking about people, after all.) It does mean that you will eventually get there because you are observing, thinking, evaluating—you are parenting actively. Mindful parents think about, and take responsibility for, their actions with their children, and make course corrections.
In his talk, Schwartzberg shares a taste of his Happiness Revealed Project. It is breathtaking. In the piece, the older gentleman implores us to open our eyes to each day, “It is not just another day. It is a day that was given to you. It’s a gift—a gift that was given to you right now.” And so it is with your children. Each day you have with your child is a gift. You have just one life with each, so don’t let it get away. Pay attention and be mindful. You don’t have to resolve to do it—just do it. It’s right there in front of you.
Betsy Brown Braun is the bestselling author of the award-winning Just Tell Me What to Say (HarperCollins 2008), and You’re Not the Boss of Me (HarperCollins, 2010), a bestseller in its fourth printing. A renowned child development and behavior specialist, popular parent educator, and mother of adult triplets, she is a frequent speaker at educational and business conferences, has been a guest expert on Today, the Early Show, Good Morning America, Fox News, Fox and Friends, Dr. Phil, Entertainment Tonight, Rachel Ray, and NPR, and has been cited in USA Today, the New York Times, Family Circle, Parents, Parenting, Woman’s Day, Real Simple, and Good Housekeeping among countless other publications and websites.