On New Year Resolutions

It is a new year and it has been that way for a while now. I am writing about the new year. Why I am writing about the new year is beyond me. I hate the new year. I hate painting the town red and scoring hangovers. Most of all, I hate wishing every one a ‘happy new year’. This is the day when all the grouches come out of their hibernation and cheer for a fresh beginning. For every other day, the glass is always half empty, but today it is brimful and spilling over. I hate the optimism. I hate the surge of hope. And I hate that the rational world suddenly loses its mind. Girls don fashionable ‘attires’ and ‘chic’ boots, and get drunk like a wild elephant. Boys try to outdo each other in extravagance and stupidity. Well who cares? I am just another grouch, who refuses to come out of hibernation. Well, now I know why I am writing about the new year. I had resolved to work on my attitude. Surely, I am off to a great start!

New year, for a while now, has been a worldwide phenomenon. The least it deserves is recognition. People seek the beginning of a fresh chapter in their lives; even those who could do with a bit of continuity in their lives, ironically enough. As such, the hall mark of ‘new year’ is the set of resolutions we make for ourselves. We resolve to do something with our lives, correct our failings and make a fresh start. Most of us want to lose weight or quit smoking (I am trying to do both, albeit not so successfully). We view it as an occasion for unimaginable optimism, yet we draw lines in the sand and chose to beat ourselves up over them for the rest of the year. We make lofty promises to ourselves, and when we can’t live up to them, we fall back on our usual coping mechanisms. We over-eat, we smoke, we drink ourselves into oblivion and wait for another year to make another fresh start.

I read somewhere that it’s important to have ‘intentions’ and not resolutions. Intention to be a little more patient with the people around you, be more kind and compassionate, that sort of a thing. And I think it makes sense, in a way, to have intentions, instead of resolutions. It does not fit very well with our worldview. We, the lot of us, have been led to believe that will power is something every single one of us is born with and if you aren’t, then you are screwed for life and pretty much useless to yourself and to others. I like to think, that our will power is the sum total of our experience. If we are rendered braver by our past and curious by our nature, we all have an untapped reserve of energy in ourselves, that has eluded us till now. When we resolve to do something, we are already rooting for our failure. We are not confident about our ability to do something, to complete something and therefore, we undertake a resolution. We avoid taking the bull by the horns and instead resolve to achieve, because we have been raised to believe that it’s dishonorable to break your promise and weak to give up on your resolution. Now that we have backed ourselves into a corner, we have no choice but to succeed or lose all hope of succeeding. Most of us, go with the latter. But then, for those of us who are disenchanted with the course of our lives, what other choice is there?

As much as I hate optimism, I think it’s the most logical choice. We are intelligent, rational beings. We do not need the confines of a resolution and the constant fear of self or societal ridicule to make a change in our lives.We do not need to correct ourselves. What we need is to better ourselves, because what we are already is pretty great. What we need is self-belief and pride at who we are and what we can become. The rest comes easy.

In keeping with that spirit, I think I will travel a little more, see more of the world, perhaps write more, work harder and definitely, have a great 2015.

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