Time to begin anew

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The end of the year is fast approaching, and that means two things: clearance sales in the toy aisles and people making New Year’s Resolutions.

New Year’s resolutions are not only easy to make, but they are even easier to break. By making New Year’s resolutions, are we inevitably setting ourselves up for failure, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

The dawn of a new year gives us an incentive to ‘start again’, to discard the bad habits of the previous year and to begin anew.

Some may resolve to be more tolerant of others, to develop a greater to kindness in challenging situations, to give more freely, and to be more focused on what is really important in life. But how do we stick to these promises to ourselves?

Most of us promise to give up something that we enjoy but know that it is harmful to us. Something like tobacco, alcohol, or foods in excess.

But, resolutions are

not just about giving things up. Making resolutions is also about replacing bad habits and inclinations with good ones.

Now, I don’t know about you, but this is not usually an easy process – it requires commitment and perseverance. It means being aware of our negative tendencies and, where possible, nipping them in the bud.

This means we must be aware – even alert – to our mental and physical processes. In this way, one can avoid knee-jerk reactions to our everyday experiences. For example, turn down that cheesecake, drink or cigarette when your best friend comes calling with the best intentions.

Most people make New Year’s resolutions with consideration to their mental and physical health. We all have that wise voice within that knows what’s best, urging us onward. But maybe it’s a voice we should learn to listen to at all times, not just at the beginning of a New Year.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I gave up years ago making resolutions. It took almost half my life to figure out that no matter how well intentioned I was, they day came when those declarations were set aside for various reasons.

Making a New Year’s resolution is just inviting failure into your psyche and none of us needs to carry around a load of guilt.

Why not determine to live your life in pursuit of peace and more love toward others? Instead of vowing to give up chocolate or take a college class, why not consider attending church every Sunday, instead of just on a special holiday?

You might even consider giving more of yourself to worthy causes like Special Olympics. In Gates County, this is an extremely important program for physically and intellectually challenged individuals. Rather than being pushed aside, Special Olympics gives them an opportunity to be an athlete where they would ordinarily be left out of sporting events.

Right now, the participants are in need of athletic uniforms to wear in competition. Can you be as committed to helping them as they are to winning an event? In fact, they are so committed to the challenges; they don’t even ask to win but instead, to do the best they can. Isn’t that something we should all strive for each day of our lives?

If we could all resolve to do our best for others every day…One sort of resolution has to do only with oneself. You might decide to lose weight, to stop eating candy, to exercise more, or to watch less TV. Other resolutions might involve family or friends. You could resolve to be more patient with your little brother, to be more helpful to your mom, or not to get into fights with your friends. Some resolutions are about school and the outside world, such as getting to class on time, trying for better grades, or not teasing the neighbor’s dog.

If you manage to keep these promises, it will make you feel better about yourself. So, it’s important not to make wild resolutions that are too difficult to follow.

By resolving to demonstrate your love toward others, like the Special Olympians, you have one focus and one that you may just be able to feel good about next New Year’s Eve.