A Different Type of Resolution
tom walsh

   

With each year that comes and goes, I feel less and less connected to the idea of a "year."  Just what is a year, other than 365 days that have been grouped together for the convenience of "keeping track" of time?  Years are very convenient for cataloging and making appointments and plans and remembering back to when things took place, but what true value do they add to our everyday lives?  Not much.

New Year's resolutions, too, mean less to me as I see more New Year's Days.  What does it mean to me to resolve "to be more understanding," or "to be more patient"?  Will I do that in February?  In August?  Perhaps in December, when I realize that I haven't been very good at keeping my resolutions for the year?  And when the end of the year comes along, how do I gauge my success?  Was I more patient 65% of the time?  If so, was that a success or a failure?

I find that I'm much more interested in today, and what I hope to do and how I hope to act on this particular day.  I have many choices ahead of me today, and how I choose has a profound affect on how I see myself and how others feel around me.  Do I want to be more patient?  Then this morning, I promise myself that I will work at being much more patient today.

Even more importantly, when a situation comes up that tries my patience, it's easier for me to remember this morning's promise than it is to remember late December's resolution.  

And when one of my step-daughters didn't do the dishes again, I can choose to try to live up to the promise of this morning and be patient with her rather than impatient and harsh. 

When all is said and done, the promises of the morning or the New Year mean nothing--all that truly matters is the way we act in a given moment, whether we're living up to that promise or breaking it.

Even a weekly resolution is easier to live up to than a yearly one.  Making resolutions on a Sunday afternoon at least gives us a regular opportunity to reflect on last week's promises, as opposed to trying to reflect on a whole year of action and inaction.  If I promise on Sunday that I'll be more encouraging to others, then next Sunday I can think about how I acted that week and figure out if I kept the promise or not.

Of course, there are some wonderful resolutions that can be made on New Year's Day--those resolutions that require a long process are especially apt.  Do you want to lose that extra ten or twenty pounds this year?  Then make the resolution.  But what you eat and how often you exercise are easier to keep track of on a weekly or daily basis, and it's easier to get back on track after a day or a week of not meeting your promise than it is to reach August and realize that you've lost only a pound or two, or even gained a few.

"Day by day."  "One day at a time."  This is a way of living that wise people have told us for centuries is essential to our making a fulfilling and happy life for ourselves.  When we make our to-do lists to help to keep us on track, we usually stick to the next day or two, and our planners are full of things to do for the next few weeks.  But our actual actions are what we truly can control and make decisions about; we have to wait until next month's meeting before we can be there.  Making our promises to ourselves--promises that will benefit the other people in our lives, too--on a daily or weekly basis can help us to see the importance and the immediacy behind our actions and the way we live this life of ours.

Make this a truly fulfilling and happy new year--remind yourself regularly of the person you wish to be, of the promises to yourself that you wish to keep, and the way that you're truly acting in relation to the way that you wish to act.  The person who wishes to quit smoking who keeps ashtrays and packs of cigarettes around the house isn't acting in a way that will help him or her to quit.  Be good to yourself, and keep these promises that will make you a happier person; remember that in the end, those people with whom you share your life will benefit greatly from you becoming a happier person.

  
    


 
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