Why we all make them—and why we all break them.
New Year’s Resolutions. Three little words that all of us know well and most of us dread. A constant source of guilt when we discard the resolutions within a few weeks, these goals for the coming year are just as much a part of January as returning Christmas gifts and going back to school. We love them just about as much, too.
No matter if we realize it or not, all of us make New Year’s Resolutions. Whether we call them “promises to ourselves,” or “things I’m going to do this year,” the desire to change in the coming year manifests itself in the majority of us. Why does this happen? Well, it’s simple -- all of us have something about us that we want to change, and the fresh start of a new year seems like a perfect time to put these changes into play.
Here are some of the more popular New Year’s Resolutions that I’ve encountered in my near thirty-six years on this planet. Listed in no particular order, I’m sure that many of you will remark “oh yeah, I’ve tried that one,” probably more than once. The real question remains, though, how many of these resolutions have you actually followed through with?
“I promise to eat better/lose weight/go on a diet/exercise more.”
This resolution is, by far, the most popular one out there. I’d say a good 75% of people who make resolutions, consciously or un, make a promise to curb their raging eating habits. No more will the days of stuffing your face with a double cheeseburger, medium rare, dripping with melted cheese, drowned in bacon, slathered with mayonnaise, piled high with sautéed onions, topped with a fried egg, sitting on two toasted, buttered rolls, be the dish on the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “This year, I’m going to eat more salads, plain chicken, and fish!” This is the cry of many at 12am on January 1. The resolution falls apart pretty quickly, though, as you realize that salad, plain chicken, and fish, taste like old shoes when competing against a supreme pizza with extra cheese.
Well, I’m here to forgive you pre-emptively. Even though the media would have you believe that pizza, burgers, and pasta are the physical manifestation of Beelzebub himself, the fact is that just about anything in moderation is ok. As long as you keep your intake below a certain amount, feel free to have that Coldstone Creamery milkshake. (If you can afford it, that is. That stuff costs more per ounce than gold.)
“This year, I’m going to try all those holistic/diet/herbal/alternative remedies that I have heard worked for [insert acquaintance/relative/friend/person on the internet here].”
God. How many times have I myself made this resolution? Those of us who suffer from any illness know that each year at least three or four supposed “miraculous cures” come to our attention. Whether it’s a new diet, a new trigger food, or a new European procedure, these miracle cures seem to find their way to us. These “cures” didn’t just pop up with the net, though. They used to spread by word of mouth when I was young, mainly through my mother. When I was 12 years old, we tried one of these ridiculous diets. It was the “no artificial coloring, flavoring, or seasoning diet.” Let me clue you folks in to something – do you know why they invented artificial flavoring and coloring? Because most food tastes, and looks, like corrugated cardboard without it. At twelve years old, remember, this also includes all ice cream and all candy. Try suffering through a summer watching your friends stuff their pre-adolescent faces with all the colors of Willy Wanka’s candy rainbow while you pull out a baby carrot and crunch away on what tastes like the bit of extra plastic that came with your model airplane. Heaven on Earth, let me tell you. In addition, when the no artificial diet mercifully came to an end without result, I immediately was switched to the “no nightshade vegetable diet.”
Nightshade vegetables are a family of plants that contain alkaloids. This group includes vegetables like Huckleberry (no big deal to miss), cherries (never liked them anyway), sweet and hot peppers (at twelve who eats peppers?), and potatoes (I liked mashed, but I could do without). Oh, and, I almost forgot tomatoes. Yeah, that’s the big one. In case you forgot, both ketchup and marinara Sauce contain tomatoes. Try being twelve and going to birthday parties without eating hot dogs, hamburgers, or pizza. At that age, those are the three food groups, and I was out of luck for all of them. In the end, though, besides nearly fomenting a household revolution, nothing changed for my disease.
So, to any of you who want to try a new remedy this year I say have at it. Just remember, the odds of it being successful are lower than taking actual, factual medicine. If it works for you, that’s fantastic, but don’t discount the power of the placebo effect. In other words, if you think it’s going to work, it will work. I have seen the power of mind over matter more times than I can count in almost twenty-six years of crippling disease, and, in fact, have learned myself how to mentally “shut off” pain. Just make sure that whatever alternative treatment you have chosen is actually the reason you are feeling better. Keep in mind that if any of these alternative remedies were proven to work on a widespread number of cases, you’d have probably heard about it in other places besides www.JimmysTurnipCure.com, and no one would charge money for it.
“This year I’m going to get my book published and become a famous author.”
Granted, this is a more specific resolution that, overall, less of us make. More like just a few of us. I’d even say probably just a couple. Fine -- just me, but you can replace “famous author” with “famous chef” or “famous bass fisherman” or “famous manure salesman” or whatever your desired profession is. We all have a dream job or career, and every year most of us wish for success in that particular field. All I can say about this one is that you have to actually do something for the resolution to come true. If your current job is night watchmen at a widget factory, chances are you aren’t going to wake up one day and suddenly become the top lumberjack in the country. You’ll have to actually go out and buy big suspenders and a red plaid shirt, at the very least. My point is don’t expect things to fall into your lap. You’d think this is common sense, but I can’t tell you how many people I have watched wish away twenty years of their life pining for a career they wish they had while they waste their youth putting the plastic ends on shoelaces (they are called aglets, just FYI -- don’t say I never taught you anything). This goes for activities as well. Yes, you might end up hurting a bit more, but if you know you can do something without damaging your body permanently, then by all means, do it! I promise you will more likely regret something you didn’t do than something you did do. Except those shots on my 21st birthday – it’s still a Bacardi and cake nightmare flashback every time I smell rum.
New Year’s Resolutions – the three little words that produce more guilt in January than a mother’s plea for a post-Christmas nursing home visit that you blow off because you have “things to do” when you really just end up siting in your dirty pajamas and drinking leftover eggnog. Don’t’ worry though, we all make them, and we all break them. Just the fact that you still have the desire to improve yourself is enough, take it from me. The year that you stop making resolutions and resign yourself to living in a van down by the river is when it’s time to worry. So Happy New Year, folks, and you can always e-mail or Facebook me some of your resolutions. If I get enough of them I will go over a few of the more colorful ones next week!