Well, the New Year is upon us and as per usual all the lofty promises of character transformation are proclaimed just as soon as the sun rises on January 1st. I figured I’d peek into it a bit to see what historical trends we’ve likely ‘modernized’ and revamped to serve as our annual self pep-rally.
As it turns out, everybody has been about dat life for quite some time. As a Christian growing up, I attended watchnight services where we’d pray in the new year. When I was child I kinda bartered with God, like “Hey God, you get me more G.I. Joes and I’ll totally try to be more obedient this year.” But for the people slightly more mature than myself, these services were their display of commitment to God, asking Him to be with them from the very start of the new year. In the Jewish faith, they aim for a restart by acknowledging the wrongs they have committed in the past year, and those that were committed against them. For the new year, they ask for and offer absolution, so as to move forward carrying no baggage from the year prior. In China, they spend the days leading up to the New Year cleaning every last spot of dust from their houses. By cleaning all of the residue from the past year, they hope to rid their house of any bad luck and start the new year with a (literally) clean slate.
Research shows that 8% of resolutions made are successfully carried out to completion. 1 If that is fact, shouldn’t what we resolve to improve be something of the utmost importance? Only so much can be done with resolutions ranging from things like going to the gym more often, to only drinking on the weekends, to saving for that trip, or eating more organic food. Though all great ideas, they are doing minimal good for the world we should be trying to better as a whole. What will this new fit, sober, frugal, and healthier you be putting back into the world? Not to discourage self improvement, but make sure to pay attention to what self you are improving. Altruism is quickly becoming a rarely seen characteristic and the effects are manifesting in a cutthroat, dog eat dog world. Selflessness has many tangible benefits, such as increased health,[2,3] but the intangible, karma, expands even further. “This is your world, shape it or someone else will.”4 Just saying, doing good benefits the giver and receiver alike so why not, and why not right now?
The significance of January 1st is apparent but certainly not imperative. It is said that you are ten times more likely to keep a resolution if you openly declare it.5 If you truly want the change, you need to live the change. Whether that change is going to the gym, saving money, or becoming the person that makes their part of this world greater, it doesn’t start until you start it. The thing about resolutions and any other changes you want to make in life, is that they require a DAILY recommitment. Being able to recommit daily affords you the freedom to start or restart any time, not just January 1st. So feel free to start being the best you possible today because every day is the start of a new year.
1 – http://www.statisticbrain.com
2 – http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/science-good-deeds
3 – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/random-acts-of-kindness
4 – random coffee cup (Gary Lew)
5 – http://www.statisticbrain.com