Usually I start thinking about possible New Year’s resolutions right after Thanksgiving so I’ll be prepared, but I don’t have to take them seriously because any promises made right after a major holiday are null and void. This applies to resolutions made before a major holiday, too, so between Halloween and New Year’s Day, I’m good.
Changes in behavior have to start on a Monday that falls on the first of the month, but only if the weather is nice and the moon is full. That’s a known fact! Otherwise, it’s okay to wait until the following month (or year, or holiday, or whenever). January 1, 2018 would have been an awesome day to start those serious changes that I want to make. It was not only a Monday, but the beginning of a month, the beginning of a brand new year, the weather was reasonably nice for New England this time of year, and the moon was full.
My motivation for not making any specific resolutions was based on the fact that for most of my adult life I have listened to the fake newsreel in my head convincing me that “next Monday,” “next month,” “on my birthday,” “after the holiday,” I definitely will change, and “this time it will really work.” In the meantime, of course, it’s okay to continue the same behaviors, because changing any old time is just not possible!
As Dr. Phil always asks: “How’s that working for you?” Not so well would have to be my honest answer. Barely a week into the New Year, and evidence is mounting that my decision not to make resolutions hasn’t worked any better than making them. Clearly, I needed to reconsider and make at least a few serious resolutions. But “which ones? how many? when do I start? My head aches, I’ll think about that tomorrow.” So imagine my excitement when I opened my news feed this morning to a New York Times article titled: “9 Ways to Be a Better Person in 2018.”
“Here’s what we’ve learned about living your best life in 2018, using lessons from some of our most-read Styles stories of 2017. We encourage you to be a better prepared, less anxious and more showered person in the new year. ” Anya Strzemien, 12/28/17
- Make your bed. I can do that. Heck, I already do. Check!
- Wear weather appropriate shoes. I do that, too. What do I look like? A high school student waiting for the bus in a snowstorm wearing flip flops? Laugh at my big clunky Sorrel boots if you want to, but my feet are warm and dry. Check!
- Wash Your Hair. Pretty sure I learned this one at an early age, but I guess it’s never a bad thing to include on a better person list. Check!
- Schedule Sex. I know we are a nation of over-scheduled, multi-tasking, device-dependent maniacs. But maybe a better idea than adding a sex appointment to your iPhone would be to let intimacy grow from the experience of being together sharing a quiet evening, and actually talking face-to-face. Besides, SIRI does not want to know that you plan to do the deed on Saturday night.
- Accept the things you cannot control. As a philosophy this is a good idea. However, I believe there are some things that should never be accepted, even if they are clearly not under my control. Taking this one seriously involves self-understanding and discipline. I am generally able to do this, but will keep working on it. Check!
- Distract yourself with a fairy tale. I’ve done this too much in my life, so no check here. It’s fine to indulge in some royal-watching or brief fantasies of winning the lottery, but I think I have to pass on this one as a way to become a better person.
- Embrace your age. Absolutely, without a doubt. I have earned every grey hair, every wrinkle. Not too crazy about the arthritis, weakening eyes and ears, and other common problems of aging. But it’s good to be here, no matter what shape I’m in. Check, check and double check!
- Pack condoms. Seriously? Doesn’t this belong in the scheduling section? I was forced to go back and read the whole article to figure out the purpose of this one (beyond the obvious, that is). Turns out it was one small item in a long article about survivalists preparing for an apocalypse. Apparently condoms can be used (beyond the obvious) as “makeshift canteens, a fire starter, elastic bands for an improvised slingshot to hunt small game,…inflated they can also be used as fishing bobbers or signaling devices for semaphore,….” Give me a break here. Wouldn’t balloons do the trick? Sorry, but this one sounds like that old excuse about buying Playboy to read the articles. Yeah, right.
- If you suffer a setback, just keep going–and going out. This article was about Hillary Clinton and how she responded after her loss of the election in 2016. Overall it’s a good philosophy, but needs to be put into context. Some setbacks are serious and the old stiff-upper-lip response is not a healthy one. Still, I’ll put a check here to keep myself from over-dramatizing small setbacks or using them as an excuse to postpone doing what needs to be done.
While commenting on this list was fun, I don’t believe that most of these items would make me, or anyone else, a better person. Perhaps more organized, or less anxious, or prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse!
Becoming a better person has much more to do with how we treat people (particularly those who are weak and dependent on the kindness of others), about the choices we make that affect the health and welfare of this planet and all the creatures who call it home, and in the way we engage with those whose backgrounds and beliefs differ from our own.
Instead of making the same recurring resolutions that I mostly don’t keep, I think I will just make a greater effort to live by those important values that make the world a better and safer place for everyone.
©Martha Hurwitz, 1/6/18
Pictures from Pixabay