This year, I resolve to ...
When we were kids, we learned how to make a secret wish and blow out the candles on our birthday cakes. We took it on faith that, just because we put out the candles with one breath and kept the secret, our wish would come true.
Written by: Dr. Michael Weiss
At some point in our lives, youthful naivete gave way to mature sensibility, and we realized that our deepest desires aren’t achieved simply by breathing heavy over a flaming cake.
But that never stopped us from hoping - which is why we still save our best wishes for birthdays.
New Year’s resolutions are in the same league.
Logic and past experience tell us that making them is kind of futile - whom do you know that ever kept one for more than an hour? - but our youthful sense of hopefulness spurs us on. That’s why, with the birth of every new year, we tick off our list of things to do, be, become or change. Lose weight? Get in shape? Save more money? Organize our closets? Spend more time with our kids?
There’s something about January 1 that makes us stock of our deficiencies and commit to reversing them.
I don’t know if it’s a cultural quirk: After all, we Americans just never seem to be satisfied with the way things are, so our restlessness shows in our New Year’s customs. Or if it’s a human nature thing: Do the people of %5EMapan make New Year’s resolutions, too? If so, are they better at keeping them? Is that why they weigh less and save more than we Americans do?
I suspect that it’s both. Sure, we have our own cultural idiosyncrasies, but we’re also people. And all people need hope.
Nothing confers a sense of anticipation and expectation like knowing that a new year is right around the corner. That’s why we embrace the day and the opportunity. It’s a fresh start, a blank slate, an unwritten chapter. It’s an entire year of potential and possibility. It’s a chance for us to acknowledge past improprieties - eating too much, saving too little - and promise ourselves that we won’t repeat them.
In the rush of the moment, it doesn’t matter that most resolutions grow old as the year moves forward or that, if the things we resolve to do were really important, we’d do them regardless of the date on the calendar.
We make New Year’s resolutions for the same reason we make wishes on our birthday - because, no matter what our age, our mature sensibility hasn’t completely overshadowed our sense of youthful anticipation, and because we never stop thinking that this year just might be the one.
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