Anne Notations

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Resolutionary

Probably it's my own fault that I've had it up to HERE with the whole concept of New Year's Resolutions. Every January we pluckily launch ourselves at yet another mountain of self-improvement goals, yet, despite the sincerity of our proclamations about weight loss, exercise, weekly church attendance, or what have you, within weeks if not days we slide back into the same old same old. And we hate ourselves for it -- or, at any rate, I do. Because I almost always fail.

How banal are most resolutions, anyway?! And why should I set myself up for failure yet again?

A few years ago I was similarly bemused about the annual custom of giving up something for Lent. "Something" always seemed to be food, along the lines of chocolate, pizza, or ice cream. Forgoing Reese's peanut butter cups may be healthy, but as a sacrifice marking the holiest season of the Christian faith, it seemed inane. So instead of giving up a treat, I decided to adopt a specific behavior for Lent, something hard that might also make me a better person: I resolved to think a generous or positive thought every time I felt like criticizing or judging someone. Since I tend to be snarky by nature, this was a challenge. Yet I didn't do a bad job of it, and the Pollyanna reflex has stuck to some extent. I dare say it has even made me a bit nicer and happier.

At Beliefnet.com tonight I found an article by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin on the concept of making ethical resolutions. "How meaningful can your life be if your goodness is not expanding?" he asks. No argument here. Rabbi Telushkin mentions several specific ethical resolutions, and this one strikes a chord: abstain from complaining. "Just as on a fast day you refrain from eating for 24 hours," says Telushkin, "during a complaining fast you refrain from complaining about anything for a full day."

Can I do that? It won't come naturally, but I'll give it a try. It won't be so much a resolution as an earnest intention. I'll start tomorrow.

Ow. It hurts already!

5 Comments:

  • Totally agree with you on New Year resolutions Anne. My only resolution is have fun, work hard, be kind and take advantage of all oppts. It worked well for me in 2005!

    By Blogger denlover, at Sun Jan 08, 12:44:00 PM EST  

  • I try to adopt resolutions like: Do more of the things that make you happy. It even works sometimes!

    By Blogger Bozoette, at Tue Jan 10, 09:05:00 AM EST  

  • Well, harumph! I find great motivation in my New Year's resolutions and usually manage to keep/achieve more than half of them every year.

    Sign me,
    The Anne-tagonist

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 13, 01:13:00 AM EST  

  • This is awesome.

    I've become a complaining-maniac lately (rah, my job, rah, money, rah, my health) and I might just adopt that for my own use!

    Thanks, Anne!

    By Blogger helenjane, at Fri Jan 13, 12:33:00 PM EST  

  • Hi Anne,
    Is that Telushkin quote from "Words That Hurt, Words That Heal"? I read it 2 years ago and I need to read it again. He's wonderful.
    I know that book is around here... somewhere...
    "Ginger Vitus Dance"

    By Blogger Ginger, at Sat Feb 04, 04:10:00 AM EST  

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