Tag Archives: New Year Resolution

January: Month of Good Intentions


by Lillian Csernica on January 3, 2016

Here we are on the doorstep of a brand new year.  I live in the Northern Hemisphere, so it’s cold, damp, cloudy, often rainy.  This kind of weather makes me want to stay in bed with a good book in hand and at least one cat curled up at my side.  This is not the state of mind that goes well with all the usual resolutions people make at the start of the year.  Most such resolutions involve exercise, diet, taking up some good habit or abandoning some bad one.  I’ve expressed my feelings on the subject of New Year’s Resolutions here and here.

lucysfootball.com

I’ve been up all night.  Part of that was due to an effort to make progress on the climax of my current novel.  Part of that was due to me falling asleep repeatedly throughout the day.  I sat down on the couch, a cat would sit on my lap, and I’d wake up two hours later.  This is the true meaning of the phrase “cat nap.”  On a cold, wintry day, there’s nothing like a bundle of warm, purring fur to act on me like the strongest tranquilizer.  More than once lately John has had to wake me up because I’ve been snoring while he’s been trying to watch something on TV.

Takes me right back to the days when I had to do the same thing with my mother.  Ah, how history repeats itself.

It’s not just a matter of the cats sleeping on me at every opportunity.  Yes, I am cat furniture.  This role in my life has been well established.  The real problem here has to do with what I’m not calling this year’s resolution.  I have decided for several health reasons that it’s time for me to give up drinking soda.  Soda, pop, cola, whatever you call it in the region where you come from.  The salt, sugar, caffeine, and acid content are bad for my weight, my blood pressure, and my insomnia.  So that’s it.  No more.  I’m going cold turkey.

I figured I’d go through a certain period of withdrawal.  I’ve been expecting the headaches that come in the absence of caffeine.  What I forgot about was how my dependency on caffeine has a lot to do with my level of alertness throughout the day.  Now that I don’t have my caffeine fix, I’m going to have to come up with another way to achieve the level of alertness I need to write well.

goflightmedicine.com

Yes, I know, there are other sources of caffeine.  Coffee leaps to mind.  The trouble is, I do not like coffee.  I never have.  I don’t even like mocha-flavored ice cream.  So becoming a coffee drinker is just not an attractive option.

Tea would be next on the list.  Here now is another one of my peculiar little quirks.  I don’t like drinking hot liquids.  I don’t care how cold out it might be, I’d rather have cold juice or lemonade or quinine.  Hot liquids and I just don’t get along.

Clearly, some kind of adjustments will have to be made.  I might actually achieve a regular sleep schedule.  Wouldn’t that be amazing?  That might even lead to keeping regular work hours in my office.  Good heavens, I could be well on my way to tidying up my messy artistic lifestyle.  I can already imagine my husband and my sister making bets on when I go completely nuts and fall off the wagon, demanding a frosty Coke immediately or there will be hell to pay.

That brings to mind a classic aphorism oft quoted at this time of year: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  I suppose that’s second cousin to “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  We want to be virtuous, we think about doing the right/healthy thing, but when the moment of truth arrives, we are weak, wretched, flabby creatures.

And so I say to you, the truth of the matter should be phrased this way: “The road to good intentions is paved with hell.”  Giving up one of my key addictions in the name of living longer is a noble goal.  I’m just not going to be all that much fun to live with until I pass through the Valley of the Shadow of Withdrawal and come out into the land of Better Living.

Wish me luck!

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under artists, cats, chocolate, Depression, dreams, editing, Family, Fiction, Food, frustration, Goals, historical fiction, Humor, Japan, mother, parenting, romance, therapy, Writing

How NOT to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions


By Lillian Csernica on December 31, 2014

 

 

Tomorrow is New Year’s Day.  Here in the U.S., we have a tradition of making New Year’s resolutions.  I am not fond of this tradition. Last January I explained why.  I think my reasons are worth repeating.  For the benefit of regular readers and those folks I’m happy to count among my new followers, here is a repeat of that blog post:

The tradition of making a New Year’s resolution seems quite virtuous, but the endless jokes about people breaking their resolutions almost immediately shows the tradition is more honored in the breach than in the observance. Why is that so? I believe the New Year’s resolution has become an ugly epilogue to the happy glitter of the holiday season. The process of making and keeping the New Year’s Resolution is the Puritanical demand for the paying of the check, the return to sobriety, responsibility, and practicality. We’ve had our fun, now we have to go back to the dreary grind of everyday living. That we have to do so in the middle of winter sets us up for a psychological climate that is hostile and antithetical to the way human nature tends to cope with a cold, dark, dismal environment.

I know from my own experience that the physical and mental effort involved in taking down the Christmas tree and putting away all the various lights, ornaments, gift wrapping supplies, etc. can leave me and other people in no state of mind to take on some new effort. People need a break. The pressure to create and abide by the almighty New Year’s Resolution starts the New Year off with a guilt trip, which nobody enjoys taking.

Nothing much happens between New Year’s and Valentine’s Day. That post-holiday lull creates a psychological environment where one has to work uphill to battle the natural emotional letdown. That makes it twice as hard to maintain enthusiasm and motivation for a new goal, especially a goal centered on self-improvement which also carries a certain element of guilt.

January is a cold, dark, depressing month. It also rains a lot. Hard to stay motivated when all we really want to do is keep warm, stay in bed, and eat comfort food. People who have a normal, healthy outlook on life can find the prospect of upholding their New Year’s Resolution daunting. Those of us with SADD or other mood disorders may find life even harder to struggle through.

For many people, all their financial outlay during the holidays catches up with them, creating a situation of stress, tightening the belt, and potential anxiety. Resolutions regarding one’s spending habits, sticking to a budget, creating a savings plan, etc. might be not just appropriate but necessary. Such resolutions are also at risk for crumbling in the face of the physical and emotional climate.

One of the key principles of Positive Deviance says, “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.” With that principle in mind, I believe that making New Year’s Resolutions is a process that’s doomed to fail because it hinges on the state of being resolved to do something. That means it’s all centered in the mind, in thought, in the resolution itself, as opposed to being grounded in physical actions that produce immediate tangible results. Instead of dwelling on the idea that I’m going to write one thousand words every day and triggering all the excuses, avoidance behaviors, and other genuine commitments to get in the way, I can just go to my desk at the appointed time, sit down and write. This is where free writing with a pen and notebook comes in very handy. It’s a lot less intimidating than composing at a keyboard and therefore much easier to just start doing.

By simply taking action, I break through the resistance that builds up around the mental component, the resolution itself. There will be the inevitable struggles with competing commitments and outside interruptions, but I know I can get up and walk to my desk. I know I can sit down and pick up my pen. I know I can move my hand across the page. I know I can write for a given amount of time or a given amount of words. I can take those physical actions, and I can do them every day.

A long time ago, I read something in Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg that has remained a shining jewel of truth in all conditions of my life. That jewel is a statement made by Ms. Goldberg’s master of Zen Buddhism. He said, “When in doubt, take positive action for the good.” Feeling dejected by the weather and the post-holiday blues? Write those thank-you notes for the gifts you received. Expressing gratitude is one of the best ways to make yourself and other people feel better. Showing appreciation is a vital part of healthy relationships. Letting the other person know that you see the effort he or she has made and you value that effort can make all the difference.

The New Year is a time for optimism, for a new outlook and a fresh start. Instead of some huge resolution that weighs like a millstone around our figurative necks, why don’t we just take it one day at a time, doing our best to “take positive action for the good”? There are opportunities everywhere, from the desperate needs of disaster victims to the neighbor who could really use some small act of kindness. By doing so, we can turn the purpose of the New Year’s Resolution, that of self-improvement, into a much broader approach where we do what we can to improve life for everyone around us.

2 Comments

Filed under charity, Depression, Family, Goals, love, Writing

The Truth About New Year’s Resolutions


by Lillian Csernica on January 1, 2014

The tradition of making a New Year’s resolution seems quite virtuous, but the endless jokes about people breaking their resolutions almost immediately shows the tradition is more honored in the breach than in the observance. Why is that so? I believe the New Year’s resolution has become an ugly epilogue to the happy glitter of the holiday season. The process of making and keeping the New Year’s Resolution is the Puritanical demand for the paying of the check, the return to sobriety, responsibility, and practicality. We’ve had our fun, now we have to go back to the dreary grind of everyday living. That we have to do so in the middle of winter sets us up for a psychological climate that is hostile and antithetical to the way human nature tends to cope with a cold, dark, dismal environment.

I know from my own experience that the physical and mental effort involved in taking down the Christmas tree and putting away all the various lights, ornaments, gift wrapping supplies, etc. can leave me and other people in no state of mind to take on some new effort. People need a break. The pressure to create and abide by the almighty New Year’s Resolution starts the New Year off with a guilt trip, which nobody enjoys taking.

Nothing much happens between New Year’s and Valentine’s Day. That post-holiday lull creates a psychological environment where one has to work uphill to battle the natural emotional letdown. That makes it twice as hard to maintain enthusiasm and motivation for a new goal, especially a goal centered on self-improvement which also carries a certain element of guilt.

January is a cold, dark, depressing month. It also rains a lot. Hard to stay motivated when all we really want to do is keep warm, stay in bed, and eat comfort food. People who have a normal, healthy outlook on life can find the prospect of upholding their New Year’s Resolution daunting. Those of us with SADD or other mood disorders may find life even harder to struggle through.

For many people, all their financial outlay during the holidays catches up with them, creating a situation of stress, tightening the belt, and potential anxiety. Resolutions regarding one’s spending habits, sticking to a budget, creating a savings plan, etc. might be not just appropriate but necessary. Such resolutions are also at risk for crumbling in the face of the physical and emotional climate.

One of the key principles of Positive Deviance says, “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.” With that principle in mind, I believe that making New Year’s Resolutions is a process that’s doomed to fail because it hinges on the state of being resolved to do something. That means it’s all centered in the mind, in thought, in the resolution itself, as opposed to being grounded in physical actions that produce immediate tangible results. Instead of dwelling on the idea that I’m going to write one thousand words every day and triggering all the excuses, avoidance behaviors, and other genuine commitments to get in the way, I can just go to my desk at the appointed time, sit down and write. This is where free writing with a pen and notebook comes in very handy. It’s a lot less intimidating than composing at a keyboard and therefore much easier to just start doing.

By simply taking action, I break through the resistance that builds up around the mental component, the resolution itself. There will be the inevitable struggles with competing commitments and outside interruptions, but I know I can get up and walk to my desk. I know I can sit down and pick up my pen. I know I can move my hand across the page. I know I can write for a given amount of time or a given amount of words. I can take those physical actions, and I can do them every day.

A long time ago, I read something in Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg that has remained a shining jewel of truth in all conditions of my life. That jewel is a statement made by Ms. Goldberg’s master of Zen Buddhism. He said, “When in doubt, take positive action for the good.” Feeling dejected by the weather and the post-holiday blues? Write those thank-you notes for the gifts you received. Expressing gratitude is one of the best ways to make yourself and other people feel better. Showing appreciation is a vital part of healthy relationships. Letting the other person know that you see the effort he or she has made and you value that effort can make all the difference.

The New Year is a time for optimism, for a new outlook and a fresh start. Instead of some huge resolution that weighs like a millstone around our figurative necks, why don’t we just take it one day at a time, doing our best to “take positive action for the good”? There are opportunities everywhere, from the desperate needs of disaster victims to the neighbor who could really use some small act of kindness. By doing so, we can turn the purpose of the New Year’s Resolution, that of self-improvement, into a much broader approach where we do what we can to improve life for everyone around us.

9 Comments

Filed under Depression, Family, Goals, Humor, Self-image, Writing