Today is the thirty first of December 2010, New Year’s Eve... Already the Winter Solstice is ten days behind us and each day is a nano-second or two longer. In Atlantic Canada, where I write this however, those nano-seconds mean little as the temperature plummets and in many places, snow accumulates.
New Years is a time for reflection, and introspection, as well as a time for looking forward and planning. For many, it is another chance to celebrate and share merriment with family and friends, while for others, it is merely another excuse to participate in drunkenness and asinine behaviour.
It is also a time for making resolutions; for intentional behaviour changes and self-improvement.
As a younger person, I made resolutions religiously. I made all the standard ones; quit smoking, lose weight, be a nicer person, stand up for myself when necessary, get a better job, save money... I also failed miserably. That failure I soon discovered was due to the nature of resolutions and how they are often ridiculously unrealistic.
How can anyone expect, or be expected, to take a daily living pattern and change, let go of, or otherwise modify it in a matter of minutes at midnight on December thirty-first? In fact, even the date seems wrong and incomprehensible. If such behaviour modification were possible and realistic, would it not be somewhat easier on the Solstice, the shortest day of the year? “Tomorrow, the day will be longer than today, so therefore I will... (insert resolution here)” Except, in most cases, the “shortest day of the year” does not stand alone but is one of three or four days that are all equal in length and also shorter than the rest of the days of the year.
This is not to say we should not resolve to modify our behaviour or improve our lives and the person we present to others. If anything, self-improvement should be a daily effort; sometimes even hourly or by the minute.
Sometimes I catch myself in behaviours I abhor in others, and in my mind I am reminded, “We criticize in others the things we despise in ourselves.” I always pause and reflect upon this adage and my behaviour, vowing to be more conscious of how I live my life. For me, most of the time, I cannot resolve to stop such behaviour, because mostly when it happens, I am unaware of it until either after it’s been done, or I am in the middle of it and there is little hope of turning back. It is simply a matter of trying to be conscious of the times when I am GOING to resort to this behaviour and stopping before I do. I suspect that as time goes on the conscious awareness becomes easier, or so I am told.
To make a New Year’s resolution to change this behaviour would be a waste of time, for I know that resolution would be broken on the first day. Instead, I have to resolve daily to be more mindful of my thoughts and actions; that I become more aware of the ways in which I betray myself, and check that behaviour as it happens in the hope that eventually I will stop myself before I begin to behave negatively.
At this time, regardless of the effectiveness of resolutions, I would like to take the opportunity to wish each and every one of you a very Happy New Year. May 2011 bring you Peace, Joy and Prosperity.