When last year got started, I thought my New Year’s resolution was pretty simple. Instead of loading myself up with daily self-improvement obligations, I just wanted to focus on developing clarity in my life. I didn’t anticipate much change to my everyday routine.

Of course, we all know what kind of year 2020 turned out to be. Not much needs to be said there, except that it definitely gave me a lot more clarity as to what matters and what doesn’t.

One thing I’d had in mind to do during the summer was to get my lower front teeth straightened with Invisalign. The teeth had moved a bit out of place in recent years, and I thought it made sense to get that taken care of now, rather than waiting. I didn’t get started until September, but that seemed okay because the expected 13-week treatment plan would end before the holidays and, of course, I wouldn’t be traveling.

Invisalign uses plastic alignment forms that are changed once a week, gradually pulling the teeth into their optimal position as the sequence progresses. The aligner is supposed to be worn at least 20 hours per day, and it must be removed before eating or drinking anything but water. Needless to say, that puts quite a crimp in most people’s habits of snacking and coffee drinking.

Photo of a coffee cup with steam rising from it.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Probably in a more normal year it wouldn’t have bothered me much, but in 2020 it felt like another big disruption in a year of disruptions. Having to gulp my morning coffee took the comfort out of it. And I wanted my comfort, waaaah! So, although my teeth seemed to be moving into place well, I didn’t feel as positive as I might otherwise have felt. Instead, I was counting down the days left in the treatment schedule and telling myself stuff like “It’s okay, just six more weeks until I’m out of these things.”

That wasn’t the best attitude, obviously—and I got my comeuppance for it when one tooth remained stubbornly crooked at the end of the projected treatment period. It wasn’t all that far out of place and would be simple enough to fix; but by then, I felt like having my teeth covered in plastic for even one day longer was miserable rotten luck and an awful way to start the holidays.

After a few days on vacation, I settled down enough to realize that my own bad attitude had made the situation feel a lot worse than it actually was. What I needed to focus on instead was that my teeth soon would be nice and straight, along with gratitude for being able to get the Invisalign treatment, which was much quicker and easier than old-fashioned braces.

That line of thinking led to a word of intention for 2021—Alignment—and an accompanying New Year’s resolution to monitor my internal chatter more closely, putting a stop to pointless mental grumbling and anything else that is not in alignment with a joyful future. Although it’s not realistic to expect negative thoughts won’t ever show up, they don’t have to be indulged when that happens, but can instead be recognized for what they are and sent packing.

2 Comments

  1. I love your word! Alignment! We need to stop putting daily pressure on us and see the end result, you are right! Time goes by so fast, soon you will look back and be pleased that you kept up with the treatment and got a beautiful result.

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