No NYE kiss? No problem.

I used to dread New Year’s Eve for one four-letter word: kiss. If I was heading into the turn of the year without someone to share that iconic lip-touching moment, it could reduce me to tear-filled misery. The holiday could make me feel alone and sad and hopeless and pathetic.

This year, I shall share no New Year’s Eve Kiss, and I’m OK with that. I’m not looking for one. It could be nice to have someone to kiss at any random moment throughout the year, but I’m not going to give up the fun of this holiday or any other because I don’t have that. I have learned that my relationship status is a characteristic of my life, like the length of my hair or where I work or what vehicle I drive. Less so because I can influence each of those things. No one has complete control over whether they share romance with another person.

I know wonderful people who will not share a kiss with someone special on New Year’s Eve. Enjoyable, attractive, dear, worthy people who should not be characterized by whether they are in a relationship at the ticking of one year to the next. Fantastic individuals who are not a good match for me as a mate, and I am not a good match for them, though we are good matches as friends. I also know that people out there will press their lips to those of a person they sometimes loathe or wish they could work up the courage to leave. What looks like a romantic kiss can be a lie.

I have, overall, a pretty happy life. That’s not an accident. I’ve been working to make it the best it can be, affecting what I can affect. Like everyone, I have aspects I still hope to improve. I will always have aspects of my life to work on. That’s the work of living. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that defining the quality of my life by one symbolic act is to discount the true stuff of happiness. But I probably would have been too caught up in the lies I was buying to really understand.

Will I have a New Year’s Eve kiss next year? I have no idea, and that’s not a problem. If I stay true to my own self, continue to work on living a quality life, I feel pretty confident I’m going to have a happy new year. I hope you do, too, whatever the status of your lips.

-Patricia

What to get it right? Get it wrong first.

What are you kicking yourself for not being happy about? Are you miserable in your career and feeling stupid for picking that profession? Are you suffering in your relationship or are you convinced you’re not destined to be with anyone? Have you experienced a failure and are thinking that means you should give up? Maybe you should feel encouraged, instead.

Behavior writer James Clear argues that getting it wrong is not only not the end of the line, it is a necessary part of the process. Look back on past attempts, such as the first person you dated, and judge whether that particular success would have been appropriate for your life now.

Here’s a quote from his piece, then click on the link below to read the full article.

Choices that seem poor in hindsight are an indication of growth, not self-worth or intelligence.

Read the article: Your First Choice is Rarely the Optimal Choice: 5 Lessons on Being Wrong | James Clear

One reason lack of success feels so difficult to accept is because society can equate failure with shame. You didn’t just make a mistake; you’re simply incompetent. The problem is with you, not your actions. No one wants to be a “failure” or a “loser,” those who simply can’t get anything right. At least, anything that counts.

Some people do fail over and over without reflecting on why things aren’t going right, without learning from their mistakes and making course corrections. These are not good examples to follow. However, if you’re learning from your mistakes and that translates to practical changes, you’re not in this category. Keep learning, keep reflecting, keep evaluating your needs, wants and goals. Really get to know yourself and your abilities, both your strengths and areas you could strengthen. This will help you to embrace the teaching power of failure.

Don’t let “the win” control you

It’s not how many points you have but what you did to get them, whether you’re an athlete, a gamer, or someone trying to “win” at some other aspect in your life.

How you play the game reflects who you are choosing to be and your life priorities. When you walk off the field or turn off the machine or leave whatever field of competition you’ve decided to occupy, who you are stays with you. It permeates your relationships, your accomplishments in other areas, and ultimately your enjoyment of life. What you send out in life rebounds back to you.

You may mistakenly believe that the only way to get the prize or take home the victory is to embrace the philosophy that “winning is everything.” You may mistakenly think that people who aren’t willing to do whatever it takes to win – hurting others, cheating, being outrageously aggressive, breaking the law – aren’t giving it their all. The reality is that people can give a goal their all and emerge victors in ways beyond comparison with a “win” from the competition.

Who are you without “the win?” If you don’t win, does that make you a “loser?” Does that mean anyone who doesn’t “win” is a “loser?” What about people whose interests lie completely elsewhere, who are happy without even touching the ball or the controller? If someone beats you – and someone inevitably will because that’s how life works – the belief that the win is everything gives losing the power to devastate you. That makes you weaker than those who don’t measure their value in terms of points or dollars or some other arbitrary measure of success created by someone else. You’re not just taking on the disappointment that comes with a loss. Your belief system is setting you up for a much bigger loss.

Getting the most points or the most money or the most praise makes you only one kind of a winner. If winning at all costs is what you need to be satisfied, then you’re missing out on a larger victory. Some people play the game to win more than one victory: the game itself and the satisfaction that comes from having tried their best without sacrificing wins in other areas such as relationships, enjoyment of the process, and acting admirably. The ability to compete with honor, grace, and integrity is a victory in its own right, one that may often be more difficult to accomplish because the challengers are your own self and the intricacies of life. Wise people watch how you play the game because they know it reflects your values, and they may avoid you or seek to take away your power or position out of protection for themselves or society – not just acting out of jealousy, as some “winners” tell themselves.

If you need to win in order to be happy, then you’re not in charge of your life. “The win” is in charge of your life. You may have set the goal, but the goal owns you.

RELATED: The poetry behind “It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game.”

Are you sabotaging your own self-improvement?

Is there SOMETHING you are trying to acquire or something you’re trying to do that you think will better your life? Maybe you’re trying to get your body to look a certain way, or you’re looking for the perfect job, or maybe there’s something you want to buy. Check out this article about why the way you’re thinking about this could actually be preventing you from living a better life and what you can do, instead. It’s written primarily for men, but the general wisdom is not restricted by gender.

Here’s a quote to draw you in:

By charging an external object with your future happiness, you’ve essentially set yourself up for future disappointment.

Here’s the link: No More Magic Feathers: The Secret To Finding Real Self-Improvement – Paging Dr. NerdLove

While you’re there, check out the rest of the site, especially if you feel nerdy, socially awkward, or if you’re interested in improving your experiences with dating and romantic relationships.

How microbes define, shape — and might even heal us | ideas.ted.com

Check out this piece about the role of tiny organisms in general health, such as having allergies or staying well when others get sick, as well as possible connections to major concerns such as obesity and diabetes. Here’s a tantalizing quote:

We’re already starting to link our microbes to a wide spectrum of specific diseases, from the obvious — like infectious diseases and inflammatory bowel disease — to surprising ones such as multiple sclerosis, autism, and depression.

Follow the link: How microbes define, shape — and might even heal us | ideas.ted.com.

Scammers seek to exploit taxpayers’ lack of knowledge, fear

Did you know that you could really cut the amount of taxes you have to pay or reduce the amount the IRS will fine you simply by cooperating promptly when an agent gets in touch with you? That’s what scammers want you to believe. Playing on people’s fear, hatred, and (yes) ignorance, con artists contact potential victims and pretend to either represent the government or offer a way to get around paying the government.

One common scam is demanding immediate payment of taxes or penalties and either offering a “deal” or threatening “penalties,” such as arrest. Key ways to recognize this is that the “agent” wants a credit or debit card number over the phone or email, or the person demands that you pay with a way that can’t be traced, such as a prepaid debit card. Another con is that they offer to arrange things so that you pay little or no taxes — in exchange for paying the scammer, of course. Maybe they’ll offer fake refunds, tax credits or other incentives, even posing as charities that provide a tax write-off. Perhaps they’ll offer ways for you to “hide” your income, so you don’t have to pay taxes.

These scammers may sound convincing, even being able to recite the last four digits of your Social Security number or other personal information, which they may have picked up through identity theft tactics. They may work to supply additional “evidence” that they are legitimate, such as faking follow-up emails or phone calls supposedly from local police who intend to arrest you.

Don’t let some criminal take advantage of you or someone you love by exploiting your fear, lack of knowledge, or irritation with the tax system. You have the ability to inform yourself by contacting legitimate sources of information, including the Internal Revenue Service itself. Here’s a good place to start: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Scams-Consumer-Alerts.

The video below explains why you shouldn’t even “check out” an email you get that claims to be from the IRS. You can see more videos on the IRS YouTube channel.

 

This YouTube user has uploaded a purported example of one of these type of calls. This is not the IRS. Listen to how the “agent” belittles and threatens the guy. About minute 15, the guy asks the caller, “Are you going to go to Heaven?” and launches into a morality lesson.

Remember that you have the right to legal representation if you are in a dispute with the IRS, including an attorney provided for you if you cannot afford one. Here are a list of other rights as related to the IRS and taxes.

Create a strong defense against becoming a victim of a scam by knowing your rights and responsibilities and acting according to them.

Be aware of shopping-habit marketing

Companies are studying your shopping practices to figure out ways to market their products to you on an individual basis. Can your awareness of your own habits manipulate them to get better deals?

An article in the New York Times describes how retailer Target studied buying habits to predict what you might purchase and use that information to lure you into buying other products from them. Some people don’t like the idea of being studied and marketed to, but that doesn’t change the fact that it happens on a daily basis, from the cookies planted on your computer to track the sites you visit to the list of items associated with your credit or loyalty reward card.

You can try to avoid the tracking by regularly clearing the cache and cookies from your computer, avoiding the use of rewards cards, and paying only with cash. You can also be aware of the practice and know that your buying habits could trigger coupon incentives that you can later use and knowing that the company is seeking to maximize its profits by engaging in a practice that benefits it.

Ponderables: If companies can gather information that people are knowingly providing and use that to market to that individual, is that harmful or helpful? Is such data collection too invasive? Should be people be allowed to access their own personal files of data? What are the long-term implications for the marketplace in terms companies that can afford this type of marketing strategy, and choose to use it, compared to companies that choose not to use it or ones that are so small that they cannot afford it?