New Year’s Traditions

New Year’s Traditions

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  1. Are you one of those people who vows to give up something you know is bad for you or promise to do something that you know will be good for you every New Years? Do you over-indulge throughout the holiday season, then on New Year’s Eve pledge to diet starting the following day, or exercise regularly, or both? If you are, how many of these oaths have you remained faithful to for more than a month? Have any of them been permanent changes for your well being?

    I used to make New Year’s resolutions, back when I used to actually celebrate the new year. Then, quite suddenly, I realized two important things: I never, ever, kept my resolutions; and celebrating New Year’s is commemorating the passage of time. It wasn’t until I started getting older that it occurred to me that Time is the enemy, so why should I celebrate its passing?  Shouldn’t I instead mourn the loss of Time? I’m not maudlin enough to do that, but this insight was enough to stop me from celebrating New Year’s (and my birthday) from then on.

    Why wait for the new year to make positive changes in your life? When you do this, you procrastinate because on some level you really don’t want to give up that something, or start doing something you had resisted all your life. I am all in favor of people changing themselves for the better. At the same time, I am not in favor of giving up things that bring you joy. If you drink too much but are not technically an alcoholic, maybe you can just limit yourself. If you eat the wrong foods (and too much of them), you don’t have to give them up in favor of tofu; instead, eat the tofu and the things you love, but in smaller quantities and not as frequently. That way those things will be treats with which to reward yourself.

    If you wait until New Year’s to resolve to improve your life, chances are you won’t stick with whatever plan you come up with, because procrastinating until January 1 indicates that you really don’t want to change. And while you may take your resolutions seriously, you are far more likely to go back on your resolve if you procrastinate.

    The other popular tradition for New Year’s Eve is to bid farewell to the passing year and hope that the next year will be a better one. Granted, we’ve all had years that we could have done without and have felt this way at one time or another. But surely the entire year wasn’t horrible… was it? There will be few years in any of our lives where we won’t deal with some kind of adversity or outright tragedy. If we dwell on the bad things that happened in any given year, we dishonor all of the good things that happened that same year—and there will be (or at least should be) damn few years where a bunch of good things didn’t happen to us; we just tend to focus on the bad, and when we’re old and gray (that would be next year for me) and we tally up our lives, wouldn’t it be far better to have a long list of good times to remember than an endless scroll filled with misadventures, bad experiences and tragedies? I would never suggest that we forget the bad things in our lives; each bad experience contains valuable lessons for personal growth. However, dwelling on the bad is just plain sick.

    So when midnight rolls around on December 31, don’t wish for a better year to come, but bid the present year a fond goodbye and take a few moments to reminisce over all the good things that happened this year.

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