Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year’s Resolutions

We have all made New Year’s Resolutions at one time or another and this is a subject that hits the news every year at this time.  So what is a New Year’s Resolution?

Our tradition of resolving to change undesired behavior or accomplish a personal goal is probably directly attributable to ancient religions where people made promises to their gods. I remember a time in my life when every morning on my way to school I would resolve not to go to the nearby Cake Masters Bakery to buy a slice of chocolate layer cake.  I broke that resolution several times a week!  So much for my will power!

What started me thinking about this subject was an article in our local free paper, The Santa Fe Reporter, whose front cover banner said, “2018 Resolutions”.  After last week’s Missive titled “Charities” for Christmas, “Resolutions” seemed perfect for January 1. The Reporter article, however, was mainly asking known personages in Santa Fe and nationally for their predictions and aspirations. I cannot resist repeating the one that might be closest to my way of thinking after this most depressing year: Kenneth Baumann, a teacher in Santa Fe, said  “I’d like to see less fascism, more decentralized institutions.  Less authoritarian impulses, less violent persecution of minorities.”

I did, however, want to look up some of the most popular resolutions on line and found that every article had a different slant.  Being more careful with money or getting out of debt were, of course, near the top of any list. Also, there was losing weight, eating healthier, getting in better shape (ie going to the gym) and drinking  less alcohol, which could all be considered the same resolution. The one that amused me was spending less time on Social Media: it sounds so new how is it already a bad habit you want to get over!  Here is a cartoon you will relate to if you have ever thought, “I must listen to my mother more”.

If people have made resolutions for thousands and thousands of years, why have they found them so difficult to keep?  For one thing even if you continue to work on a resolution for a long period of time eventually you stop and go back to your old ways.  I know that half a century ago I lived in London for 9 months and walked everywhere often 9 miles in a day and lost 45 lbs.  I actually went to a Saville Row tailor to have my clothes taken in because it was cheaper than buying all new suits.  When I was back in New York and still walked and pedaled a lot it was never the same. After some time I gained much of the weight back.  If your patience and stamina don’t pay off sooner or later you say “What’s the use?"

I found this article from Psychology Today titled, “Why People Can’t Keep Their New Year’s Resolutions”. It looks at what researchers and the psychologists have to say.  Articles from various publications are quoted with links as references. It is an interesting method of internet footnoting! The article actually explains my weight problem as my having been discouraged after really trying  but also that resolutions require a “rewiring of the brain” which is not easy to do on your own.  I am attaching a link to the article where you will not only find many reasons why people give up on their resolutions but some suggestions for having a better chance of success.

No comments:

Post a Comment