Ah, a new year. A clean slate. The chance to start anew. Day 1 of __. A new year is an automatic promise for opportunity and change. There’s ample time now to slowly (quickly?) transform a not-so-appealing element in an individual’s commonplace.
As a society, we habitually love to consider tweaks and massive improvements in our daily lives; we love new and sparkly. We flock to weight loss trends and money-saving schemes and the latest home improvement hacks. We run to the best and greatest out there, which may be merely a result of our capitalist sustenance.
Making New Year’s resolutions is no different.
According to U.S. News, our overall drive towards declaring resolutions at the top of each year may stem from “holiday remorse.” Clinical psychologist Joseph Luciani writes, “. . .It’s the guilt driven-response you have to holiday excess that becomes the catalyst for those New Year’s resolutions and intentions. What happens is that we go through the holidays abandoning most – if not all – restraint, while indulging our bacchanalian impulses. Bellies full, we manage to sleep well at night clinging to the rationalization that, come the new year, we’re going to lose the weight and get in shape. . .Come the first of January, the hoards of enthusiastic resolution-ers account for the swelling number of gym, yoga and Pilates memberships as the diet books fly off the book store shelves.” (Luciani, 2015)
There’s some major truth to this cycle that Luciani clarifies. We regularly inhale emotion friction and stresses throughout the year. By the time the holidays emerge, tensions are usually all-time high, as we are often encouraged to buy presents, give money, spend time, and stretch ourselves. The types of coping mechanisms that we adopt to get through the holidays include such guilty pleasures as fatty foods and succulent sweets and avoiding exercising and all the “bad” that we know we can simply wish away at the coming year.
And we do. Yearly.
Results may vary.
If only there was a workaround in this process, some kind of way to find master blueprints to mend all the aspects we resolve to improve—food intake, working out, and anxiety balance, for instance–over a year or more. It’s an elusive and illusory thing. If we can spread our ambitions and intentions over a period of time, there may be less pressure to make resolutions…and much less failure at keeping them.
The disenchantment is as discouraging as being the only one who can feel a pea under a stack of pristine, memory-foam mattresses.
I know who could model how to fix our waning process of commitment, though, and don’t laugh: a toddler.
Namely, a two-year-old one.
A two-year-old has enough innocence and enough routine upload of sense that their resolutions would be more “go with the flow” and less oppressively non-negotiable. Children this age have no sense of time and, thus, urgency. They don’t believe in anything beyond what’s in front of them. They don’t feel absurd warrants for modification. Stresses arrive in the meager form of the wrong flavor of Cheerios on the wrong color plate. Toddlers learn so much so quickly that they usually cannot even lay still while sleeping.
What a life.
When an adult discloses a resolution to “eat healthier,” a toddler’s equivalent resolution can be, “In the new year, I plan to eat only the toilet tissue and not the paper towels; in fact, I’ll just throw the paper towels on the dog. Tissue is softer on the palate.”
To meet a resolution to “get a new job,” a toddler could say, “Instead of banging the blocks together after mommy says ‘stop,’ I can pick out mommy’s biggest pot and bang the blocks on that. It would be such a refreshing change in sound.”
Imagine a toddler responding to a “save money” resolution: “What is money? What is it? Why is it here? Why are we here?”
A resolution to rid oneself of a dependence would be almost laughable to a toddler. They may respond with, “But I really like to jump on the bed. Daddy says he will buy me ice cream. And I love french fries. Everything is fun.”
If a person wants to become more organized in the new year, their toddler may say, “I can do that, too. I can push the cars off the table to the right and laugh at the kitty licking up the milk that spilled from my sippy cup instead of wiping the mess into the carpet.”
Volunteering is a worthy resolution. “Voluntarily waving at people going up the escalator at the mall” is also a worthy resolution.
We all want to live life to the fullest, which is the ultimate motivation behind our annual proposals for greatness.
Toddlers are already doing that. No resolutions required.
Luciani, Joseph. “Why 80 Percent of New Year’s Resolutions Fail.” U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 29, 2015, https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail. Accessed Jan. 3, 2018.