Many Americans (and maybe people from other countries, but who cares?) make New Year’s Resolutions this time of year. January first is considered a good time to make postitive changes in our lives, a chance to form good habits and weed out the bad ones, to boldly lie like we haven’t lied all year long. Because, according to a study I saw once, most Americans (and probably people from other countries) stick to their resolutions for about three days. Personally, I doubt they last that long.
This is not necessarily a Bad Thing. My theory is that if people kept all their New Year’s Resolutions, then most folks would be perfect by the time they’re about 40. And if that happened, they would have nothing to strive for, no further goals to reach in life. In short, they would not do stupid stuff for me to make fun of. They would be boring.
But people want to make themselves ‘better,’ for some reason. This is an indicator that they don’t think they’re good enough the way they are. Which, I admit, is definitely true for most of us, but still, our New Year’s Resolution habit shows we’re dissatisfied with ourselves. We’re unhappy that we aren’t better, and when we make resolutions and then break them, not only are we imprefect, we’re also quitters who lack commitment. We also lack hair and/or waistlines. No wonder people are depressed this time of year.
See, here’s the problem with resolutions – most people resolve to quit smoking, or lose weight, or be nice to really irritating people, or get taller during the coming year. Those are really hard things to do, and require effort. My opinion is that most people would rather not expend effort. So they try for a few days, and then they throw in the towel and break out the Oreos. Because effort is a lot of trouble.
What people should do, if you ask me, is make resolutions that would be easier to maintain. They should resolve to take more naps, or buy themselves something new every month, or quit reading the labels of their onion dip conatiners. Those resolutions would be easy to keep, and everyone would be in a better mood, and the world would be a happier place. Granted, it would be a less productive place, but so what?
But in the spirit of progressiveness, I intend to encourage people who have made resolutions during the coming year. I won’t share my cookies with anyone, just in case they’ve resolved not to eat sweets. I’ll be rude and disrespectful, to give others practice in being kind to jerks. And I’ll grow more hair on top of my head, to give people balder than me a chance to, uh, wish they had more hair, I guess.
I would also like to encourage others, in case they haven’t made any resolutions yet, to make some that will actually help others, instead of just themselves. I have a list of suggestions.
Resolve to look in your rearview mirror at least once a month. You know who you are. You drive in front of me, going slow in the fast lane, and you’re oblivious to the world around you. Scoot over and quit holding up progress.
Resolve to save up the money you spend on lottery tickets, and take your spouse out to dinner with it. Being together once a month is far more valuable than being rich somewhere down the line. Plus I won’t have to wait five minutes for you to explain to the clerk which of the 87,452 kinds of lottery tickets you want to lose money on.
Resolve to pay with cash at Walmart. It’s faster, you won’t get a bill later, and it irritates the IRS because they hate cash, and the NSA because they can’t keep track of subjects who don’t use credit cards. No, no, leave that checkbook at home. That’s even worse.
Resolve not to smoke while you’re pumping gas, especially if I happen to be in the same zip code with you at the time. I know, you’ve done it a hundred times, and nothing ever happened before. That doesn’t alter the fact that you’re an idiot. And I say that with the utmost respect, because you’re far braver than I am.
If you happen to be an anti-hunter, resolve to educate yourself about where the money comes from for all the programs that benefit wildlife (hint: it comes from hunters). And eat some venison. It’s far better for you than the stuff you get at your super market.
If you happen to be an anti-gunner, resolve to educate yourself on, well, life. Seriously, if laws worked, cops wouldn’t need guns. There are bad people out there, and they don’t usually resolve to be nice to you.
Or you can do what I do, and avoid resolutions altogether. Actually, I may be the only person in history who has never broken a New Year’s Resolution. On 1 January 1978 I resolved never to resolve anything again. So far, so good . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who would like to wish you a Happy New Year, but he knows better. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org