A new year is upon us, and many people will be reflecting on the past 12 months, and their experiences in 2014. A bunch more will be planning on getting wasted as part of a yearly social ritual where drunken revelry is tolerated, as long as no one gets behind the wheel of a car.
And one of the standby American New Year's traditions is making a few resolutions - things we intend to do or change in our lives over the coming year. The practice has loose origins going back to pagan rituals thousands of years ago. The Babylonians and Romans made similar promises of change to their gods each year, and it would seem that those sorts of positive personal vows are a common thread across time and different cultures.
Of course, New Year's resolutions aren't exactly taken seriously by many people, possibly not by most people, since a recent study by the University of Bristol found that 88% of the people making New Years resolutions failed at them.
Despite that high failure rate, folks do make the same sorts of resolutions every year, and it's interesting to look at some of those.
4. I Will Get In Shape/Lose Weight This is one of the most common types of New Year's resolutions, and it seems like it's one of the most quickly abandoned ones. Why even make this resolution? Particularly after many of us have spent the holidays packing on weight by eating a bunch of unhealthy seasonal foods. I get it, a lot of people struggle with weight issues, and we all like to think that the next year is our moment to make those big changes that it will take to get in shape.
Now, I'd never discourage anyone from trying to get in shape, but it helps to be realistic here, before rushing out to join a gym. These things are best carefully considered and planned and not just used as a yearly resolution that's quickly abandoned. Yet it stays near the top of the list of common ones that people make.
3. I Will Try to Treat People Better I can't really criticize this sentiment, we can probably all use a reminder to treat people well. I guess my only issue with this one is that it's often quickly forgotten about by the people who tend to make it. Personally, I've long noticed that it seems that the types of people who most often talk about treating others better are often the ones who are rude, inconsiderate creeps in their day to day lives. So yes, by all means, we should all resolve to treat the people in our lives better, but it's important to remember that this is also one of those things that takes constant work, and should last beyond a drunken sentiment between New Years Eve Jäger shots. If a person is the type of individual who treats close loved ones poorly enough to take note of it, perhaps family counseling is a better strategy than a boozy New Year's resolution.
2. I Will Explore New Cultures
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This is a great resolution to make, and for a person living in the Houston area, a relatively easy one to make happen. We're fortunate to be able to explore a variety of international cultures in this city without planning a costly trip out of the country, since Houston is one of America's most culturally diverse cities, and exploring those cultures is as easy as traveling to different areas of town. Of course, that's not a replacement for actual world travel, but it's a great way to introduce oneself to a variety of people, foods, and traditions before hopping on a plane, and Houston is a great place to get exposed to those things without ever leaving town. About the only major culture I haven't come across in Houston is Canadians, and they're probably living somewhere in the area, making poutine and wearing toques.
1. I Will Grow Spiritually This Year
Well, this type of resolution can fall anywhere between "earnest desire for spiritual development" and "cool sounding resolution that doesn't really mean much." Because, let's face it, if you publicly resolve to lose 40 pounds and don't, some one might remember that, but "Getting closer to God" could really mean just about anything. It's a nice vague resolution. So go for it, I guess. Whether a person finds God in a church, in nature, or a taste of the divine in a really good doughnut, I suppose personal spiritual development is a positive goal to chase. Just please don't tell me about that stuff. I don't want to hear about a person's new-agey spiritual growth anymore than I want to hear about them founding a donut church, but to each their own.
2015 is almost here, and I wish everyone a Happy New Year. Anyone making positive resolutions for themselves has my support, but some of the "classics" might be better off abandoned for more specific personal goals, with a higher chance of success.