Why bother with promises that you just won’t keep



And so Christmas has gone from us, just like we knew it would, and I trust you all had a good and peaceful one. From my window the avenue is still strewn with windows and doors lit up like landing strips, and only God knows the cost to the national grid.
And, so, a New Year upon us. The wretched pandemic aside, each new year brings its own surprise — and who knows what this year will bring — in some ways, the more things change, the more things stay the same, particularly at this stage in my own life, each year having a familiar feel to it, like an old well-worn favourite overcoat.
The start of a new year is seemingly the perfect time to turn a new page, which is probably why so many people create New Year’s resolutions. Of course, resolutions are much easier to make than to keep and by the end of January many of us have abandoned our resolve and settled back into our old habits.
We humans are an odd lot. Year in, year out, like clockwork, we get the urge to reinvent ourselves. According to research by those in white coats at the Statistic Brain Research Institute — don’t ask — the most common resolutions we make to ourselves are: lose weight/healthier eating; life/self-improvements; better financial decisions; quit smoking; do more “exciting things” (whatever that means!); spend more time with family/close friends; exercise more often; learn something new; do more good deeds for others; find “the love of their life”; and find a better job.
According to those same folk in white coats, only one in 10 of us manages to make a New Year resolution and stick to it with some positive outcome. And most of us stubbornly make the same pledges year in, year out in quasi robotic fashion.
I was never one for making New Year resolutions, in the main because I could never see the point in making promises to myself or anyone else that I knew in my heart I could not keep. In truth, probably did not wish to keep.
Recent polls — why are polls always ‘recent’? Discuss — show that one in two of us vow that 2022, pandemic permitting, will be the year they will spend more time with friends and loved ones. Good on them, I say. Apparently, the other one of the above ‘one in two’ is making a firm resolution to get fit.
The evidence is in for fitness. Regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to mortal man. Studies, some recent, some not, show that getting fit reduces the risk of some cancers, increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure, and even improves arthritis.
In short, exercise keeps you healthy and makes you look and feel better. So, how can you fail not to win with regular exercise? Get cracking you lot …
The other national obsession — as if we didn’t have enough on our plates what with Covid and going back to school and the ever-rising housing crisis — is the overwhelming urge to “enjoy life more”. Given the hectic, stressful lifestyles of many of us, is it any wonder that “enjoying life more” has become a popular resolution in recent years.
It was the English philosopher and Zen Buddhist Alan Watts, whom I read avidly as a young man, who said that “tomorrow and plans for tomorrow have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present since it is in the present and only in the present that you live”.
However, in wishing you and yours a happy and prosperous New Year, let me leave you with some tweeted New Year resolutions that make for very odd reading, some, unfortunately, unsuitable reading for a family newspaper so I have thrown them out. Each to their own, I guess…
How about @sealionsea for: “My new year’s resolution is to randomly sew one sequin onto every piece of clothing I own.”
Or @jessiegirl who says: “My resolution is to find someone to kiss besides my dog.” (Aw, shucks).
Or @Laurallg22: “Stop using my cat as an excuse for a boyfriend.”
Back to Square One and my New Year resolution, again, is not to make any New Year resolutions.
Which is blatantly a contradiction in terms…

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