By Mariam Afshar
New Year, New You! Right? You’re going to get a membership at the gym! You’re going to eat better! You’re going to get sexy in time for summer! You’re going to read those books! And take that meditation class. And save money. Lots of money. This year, YOUR life is going to change. Sound familiar? You do some version of this every year, don’t you? It will last a week. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in you. But this is getting lame. Something else needs to change in 2014. Here is what I think. I think we need to stop being self-centered and apathetic dicks. I think we need to ask how ourselves how we can make our communities, our environment, and the people we love happier and healthier. I think 2014 needs to be the year of Stop Being a Dick.
1. Share the Road Asshole. Share other things. Be aware of your surroundings. Yes, for safety sake, but also for humanity’s sake. Be courteous, hold the door open, let people merge in your lane, use your blinker, give cyclists plenty of room, stop for pedestrians. You aren’t the only person trying to get somewhere, you aren’t the only person in this city. Stop Being a Dick.
2. Volunteer. Give back to your community. There are so many organizations that you can volunteer for. It could open new doors for you. Here are some organizations and events that I recommend. The Orange Show, Art Car Parade, Bayou City Art Festival, Voices Breaking Boundaries, Heritage Society, SPARK and Buffalo Bayou Partnership. If none of those appeal to you, google more.
3. Clean up after yourself. At home, at work and anywhere else you go. Don’t leave your trash sitting on the table in your office or dishes in the sink. Pick up your dogs poop. Throw your gum in a trash can instead of spitting it out in the street. Throw your food wrappers in trash cans and recycle your drink containers. Don’t leave a trail of gross trash in your wake, other people have to share this earth with you.
4. Spend time with the ones you love and who love you in return. Choose those people wisely, you don’t need a Negative Nancy or a Naysaying Ned in your life. Choose wisely and plan a dinner or a game night or go to coffee. Do something to connect and stay connected to those you love.
5. Although, you should take time for yourself. Read a book. Have a picnic on the Menil lawn. Sit in silence at the Rothko Chapel. Take a walk. Always make time to reflect and recap all the good and some of the bad things that have happened, it will help keep you grounded and aware.
6. Take a vacation. You don’t have to leave the country, or state or event the city. Just plan a getaway. Stay at a hotel in the city, drive to a bed and breakfast. Just getaway from your life, if only for a night, it will help you appreciate and miss it.
7. Cut back on social media. A lot happens on social media and it is good to be connected to people, but real life comments and likes are so much better. Limit your time spent and where to interact with your social media. You don’t need to constantly be plugged in. Turn your phone off, putt on silent and just enjoy the moment you are in. You might miss something hilarious when your nose is stuck in your phone.
8. Take more photos of the people and places around you. Take fewer selfies. We all know what you look like, and of course you should document those days when you feel unstoppable, but, maybe post one a week. Spend the other days appreciating what your world looks like.
9. Join an organization or a club. There are several sports and social clubs in Houston. You could even start your own running group or walking group, whatever suits you. Start your own book club or craft club or gaming club. It will get you off the couch and bring new awesome people into your life.
10. Explore your surroundings. Try new local restaurants. Shop at farmers markets and craft fairs. Visit one of the many smaller, less vocal museums in Houston. Find a place anywhere in the city that you think is beautiful and make it your spot.
And one more for good measure.
11. GO TO FPHNYE and start your New Year with a new tradition. (There will be way more options for that New Years kiss than at that hour party you were invited to). The food will be way better too.
So, there you go. Ten easy steps to a better you, for yourself and your community. Now, get started!