Will 2018 be more or less off the rails than 2017 seemed?

Or 2016 before that? Remember when we couldn’t wait for 2017 to get here so it would wash the taste of the previous year out of our mouths? Oh, how naive we were.

This year has been … a menace. In what other year could it be revealed that there is a government agency that monitors UFOs and that, yes, UFOs are an actual thing, and those revelations go underreported because of how bonkers everything else is? That’s where we’re at.

And, so right now we’re all setting our resolutions, because the New Year is upon us and it would be nice to believe we have control over something in our lives. We’re figuring out what we’re going to do by way of our diets or our bad habits or whatever. It turns out, it should be no surprise, that the most common resolutions are all tied to weight or health or smoking and drinking.

My challenge to you, and it comes with some caveats below, is to love more, starting with yourself.

Spend more time with you. Instead of getting up and immediately filling your head with the anxiety and propaganda and garbage spewing out of your mobile device, take 20 minutes to yourself and clear your head. If you’re keen on doing so, call this meditation and try to maintain a singular, soothing focus. If that turns you off from giving this a go, just consider it me-time and spend some time in your brain and heart before you’re told what to think and buy, and who to believe or hate.

Think about how you could love yourself more, and what you need. Write this stuff down and visit it often. Imagine yourself happy. What will it take to get to that place? Imagine your family happy, your community happy. Imagine them satisfied and satiated. What do you all need to get there, and how can you help to make that possible? Ask how you can be of service.

Write all of these things down. Which seem doable? Which require long-term planning? Which would you like to do? Which would you like to see done? What is the first step? Take that step and go from there. Put some dates for follow-up on the calendar. Get feedback regarding what everybody actually needs. Do you feel better? Worse? Indifferent? Tailor your plan accordingly and take another step.

Reach out to your friends and tell them that you love them and that you’re here. Reach out to the ones who algorithms have hidden from you and ask how they’re doing. Tell your heroes and teachers that you appreciate what they have done for you. Write thank you notes in whichever format you feel most comfortable and tell everybody you’ve been meaning to tell that you appreciate them.

When you’re getting worked up because of things you’re seeing online, or the news is becoming too much, please take a break. Read a book. Sing yourself a song you loved as a kid. Consider how you could get involved counteracting the bummer of a thing that’s being reported or commented upon on Facebook or wherever. Step away. Take a breath. Knowing when to step away is like giving a gift to yourself. It is a form of self-love we all could benefit from this coming year.

Finally, make lists of everything you are grateful for, and do this with some degree of regularity. Think about what you can do to make other peoples’ lists and take steps toward doing those things.

Don’t do this instead of becoming involved in a larger way. Greed still needs to be fought, authoritarianism needs to be uprooted, racism needs to be smashed, and on and on and on. And we need to do that work. Do this so to preserve your heads and hearts throughout this long-term fight for a better society. We’re no good to any movement burned out.

In 2018 and beyond, what will very surely be another doozy of a year, take steps to put aside a little love for yourself every single day.

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was a teenager. He’s an owner-partner of a Portland-based content production company and lives with his family, dogs and garden in Westbrook.

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Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory...