We were out for dinner with friends recently and I commented that if ever there was a Walking Dead type zombie apocalypse, they should stick with me. I’m excellent in a crisis because I always assume the worst is coming and I plot and prepare accordingly. I actually become calmer the worse things get. The others suggested that my default behaviour trends to “fight or flight”; that I’m hard-wired to get angry or tense. Which might be life-saving if you live in a war zone or are caught in a tsunami, but in normal circumstances is an impediment to functioning in society.
You need to have some stress and aggression in order to get things done, such as publish a magazine or put on a new event, but you also have to be able to relax and calm down. While I value my ability to succeed in difficult situations and problem solve, it comes at a cost. Not every circumstance requires me to become tense, or difficult or aggressive. And of course bearing negative emotional stress can cause physiological stress. And I’ve learned (or more precisely, have repeatedly been told by my wife) my behaviour not only impacts me but affects those around me.
So it didn’t take me long to decide what my New Year’s Resolution will be for 2014. I will try to change my current pattern of behaviour - to better channel my parasympathetic nervous system to block out my visceral, sympathetic nervous response to stimuli. I am open to support and suggestion. I will chant (not really). But I will meditate, I will get back to my (largely theoretical) yoga practice. I might even lie in a dark room and listen to music while I receive a gentle massage. I will count to ten when cut off in traffic. I will wait at least an hour before responding to provocative emails. Or perhaps I won’t respond at all.
And I will likely screw up a lot, at first. Seriously. Vegas has the under/over line on altercations at 10 (and that is just in January). It’s taken me 47 years to get like this, I’m not going to change overnight, but I believe I can succeed with your help. Like other guests at our Passport For Change event will do, I hereby publicly declare my resolution goal. I’ll be creating a profile page on the website (passportforchange.com) which I’ll make public so everyone who’s interested in seeing me succeed (or fail, if you took “the over”) can log in and follow my progress and offer advice or encouragement.
If you’re interested in setting a goal for the new year and need help I hope you’ll come to the event on January 12 and set up your own profile page online. More details about the event can be found on page 33. As you might have guessed the theme for this issue is “Resolution”. This month I’m not recommending any particular article. Read the whole damn thing. As always if you want to discuss Tonic please feel free to contact me at Jamie@tonictoronto.com.