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A Different Sort of New Year’s Resolution

Most New Year’s resolutions are about doing something or not doing something. We resolve to get more exercise or go to bed earlier, or to stop smoking or gambling. But this year I am trying some resolutions that are not about either doing or not doing anything. They are about simply letting things happen to me. I suppose I could call them “passive resolutions.” The first is to let people help me. As I get older, more and more people seem to want to help me with one thing or another. At first I actually took offense at that. I thought they were implying that I was too feeble to do anything myself. But I have finally realized that they are not usually insulting me or trying to probe how much better they are than I am. They are usually just trying to, well, help. So instead of reacting defensively, I am going to try to react gratefully. It really is not all that hard: I can just say “thank you!”

One of my other resolutions this year is to let myself take pleasure in things. That is not easy for me. Having grown up in a religion that seemed to value suffering more than pleasure, I still feel suspect of anything that might be enjoyable. But maybe I am finally ready to throw caution to the wind and actually risk enjoying something. Some people even say pleasure is essential for a healthy life. Could some thing so heretical actually be true? I am going to try to find out!

Resolution number three is to allow good things that happen to make me optimistic rather than only letting bad things make me pessimistic. I have always been afraid of optimism. I figure that if I expect something to go well and it doesn’t, I will be devastated, but if I expect the worst and things go well, I will be pleasantly surprised. I guess I could call it the power of negative thinking. But it does much more harm than good. It is too high a price to pay for avoiding disappointment. Such a habitually negative attitude is debilitating for both the mind and the body. And it also becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Expect something bad and you are more likely to get it. So does expecting something good help you get it? I’m at least going to give it a try.

But suppose I do let myself be optimistic and it does make things go better? Can I accept good fortune? Like pleasure, it has always seemed suspect to me. It just does not seem right. I mean, I don’t deserve good fortune do I? How could I accept it without feeling guilty? Well, I don’t really know. It seems awfully audacious to even try. But I’m going to.

Actually, all of these resolutions seem audacious to me. Who do I think I am, anyway? Well, maybe it’s time to find out. This year I am really going to try these things. Maybe you will, too. If so, let me et me know how it goes. I’ll let you know how I do, too.

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