Powerful or Pointless?: 2022 Resolutions


image source: The NYT

Analise Bruno, Editor-in-Chief

I always thought the notion of deciding to resolve an issue with yourself was weird. How strange is it that humans decide on one day a year to condition themselves to be better in some aspect? You would think that when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve that the world is magically refreshed and cleansed which leaves room for a type of rebirth within ourselves. Not to sound pessimistic, but I think in some small sense it is practically odd to think that once the clock strikes twelve that we have to devote ourselves to fixing something in our lives.
For some background, resolutions were started by the Babylonians around 4,000 years before our time. However, their thinking about the notion was far different. Rather than seeing this as a time to find our faults and act upon them, the Babylonians believed that Janus, the two-faced goddess the month January is named after, could look back into the previous year, and forward into the future. As a sign of appreciation of her wisdom, they often offered sacrifices and mainly made promises that they would continue good conduct throughout the year to better themselves. Over the years, this prospect has changed significantly. It started with the early Christians who modified the celebration to specifically identify and rework their past faults throughout the New Year. As the practice has become more secular, however, people no longer make promises to keep good conduct, but rather laser focuses on self-improvement- which would explain why only 8% of the population is ever able to follow through on their resolution.
Now don’t get me wrong, specific self-improvement is not wholly evil. When we commit ourselves to reasonable expectations that work on improving REASONABLE personal struggles, we can achieve many great things. The issue is that methods of “self-improvement” are all too often associated with things like losing weight, looking better, finding love, eliminating carbs, and the very vague “being a better” idea. When we put this kind of pressure on ourselves to exceed a practically unrealistic and unsustainable goal, we in many ways turn our intended positive goals into obsessive challenges. Furthermore, I don’t think we ever need to wait for this hypothetical little “reset” to occur to better ourselves. I think that any point in the year is good enough to want to start bettering ourselves, physically, mentally, and emotionally. When we keep waiting for these little imaginary deadlines to show up, we waste a whole lot of our lives chasing after the unattainable. I think there’s an opportunity every day to be kinder, smarter, faster, and most importantly happier.
I think that if you want to succeed at anything, whether it be big or small, personal or not, it all starts with a broader outlook. One far beyond the vague topic of nitpicking our faults, or altering our appearance to mirror what we think we want. If anything, I would ask that if your resolution has something to do with changing your physical appearance that you focus more on feeling good than looking good (because at the end of the day that two sort of go hand in hand), if it has something to do with fixing a fault you focus on not what is wrong with you, but what your strengths are and how you can use those to improve things over time, and if your resolution is something along the lines of just “being better” I invite you to step away from the “planet” and instead look at the universe. Stop merely committing yourself to such ambiguous ideas and genuinely look at all the boundless possibilities you can create for yourself and others.

Here’s to 2022! Best of Luck.