My guess is that you’ve made your share of lists of things you hope to achieve in the New Year. The most common New Year’s Resolutions? According to Jonathan Fader, writing for Psychology Today, they are: Losing weight, exercising more, quitting smoking, managing debt, saving money, getting a better job or education, reducing stress, and taking a trip or volunteering.
The bad news: New Year’s Resolutions are easy to make and very hard to keep. Why? One sentence statements are rarely backed up with action plans. It’s human nature to give up at the sign of the first obstacle. And often, we don’t set the bar high enough.
The good news: People who make resolutions, write them down and work to create the habits to make them stick are much more likely to succeed in keeping them.
There are many tales of people who decided to reinvent themselves and transformed their lives in the process; Martha Stewart, Joy Behar, Samuel L. Jackson, Ray Kroc and Col. Sanders are a few of the more well known.
In reality, we are in a constant state of becoming. Our skin regenerates every 2-3 weeks and our skeleton is completely different today than it was ten years ago. The Buddhists say that the sooner we can understand that everything is impermanent, the more we can take advantage of the situation to grow into happier, more productive people.
Perhaps author and entrepreneur James Altucher said it best. “Every day, you reinvent yourself. You’re always in motion. But you decide every day: forward or backward.”
Deciding to do nothing is a decision, too.
Nearly three decades ago, Chicago newspaper columnist and author, Sydney J. Harris penned a set of New Year’s Resolutions that have resonated with me ever since. They are just as meaningful today as they were when he first wrote them. As you look ahead to 2019, all of us at the Rock and Roll Revisited wish you success in pursuing whatever your dreams may be. Here’s hoping that a little Sydney Harris creeps into those dreams.
To remember that we all basically want the same things, and our differences of opinion are less fundamental than our similarities of need.
To stop blaming ‘them’ for what is wrong with the world, and to examine more honestly and scrupulously our own failure to live up to our beliefs and ideals.
To respect goodness as much as we despise evil – otherwise, it becomes too easy to turn into a hater instead of a healer.
To keep in mind at all times that ‘justice’ is a seamless web, and not until we defend and assure justice for others do we gain the right lo claim it for ourselves.
To know that real strength most often discloses itself in gentleness, and weakness in furious aggression.
To refrain from self congratulations in contributing to charity – rather, to work for the elimination of the underlying conditions that continue to make such a charity necessary.
To say no more than we know, to speak no more than what we mean, and to give others as much the benefit of the doubt as we expect from them.
To cease imagining that we can improve conditions by ‘doing’ more than we do, without at the same time ‘becoming’ more than we are.
To understand that what we loosely call freedom is not a personal attribute, but a social relation – and that the optimum of freedom for everyone depends on self-imposed restrictions democratically arrived at.
To look beyond the transitory issues that divide us, and grasp for the permanent ends that unite us – not in mere sentimentality, but as a sheer matter of survival of our self-destructive species.
To recognize and admit our prejudices freely, and – if it is beyond our power to extirpate them – to discount them as realistically as we discount our limitations of eyesight or hearing or taste buds.
To accept the hard moral truth that from the moment we do anything credible in the anticipation of applause or popularity, we have forfeited our right to such credit.
To stop justifying selfishness because ‘the world is a jungle’ – for it can also be a garden depending on whether one wants to plant and water, or to plunder and uproot.
Finally, to treat people as if they were what they ought to be, which is the only way to help them become what they can be.
Be safe this New Year’s Eve. It’s what we DJs call “Amateur Night”. People who don’t typically drink a lot, drink a lot. Drive a little more carefully. Watch your own consumption. Have a little more patience. Kiss someone you love at midnight. Be safe!
See you next year!
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Author: Motor City Music – Keener 13 and the Soundtrack of Detroit