New Year’s Resolutions

Posted in Opinions on January 1st, 2009 by MadDog
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It’s an old-fashioned idea, I suppose. But, I’m an old-fashioned sort of guy. I also feel slightly silly when I attempt to give advice to others. I have a hard enough time just getting by myself.

Today, I’ll make an exception.

In the mid-80’s, when I began to realize what a jerk I was and I started employer-enforced therapy (yes, that’s how bad it was), I was looking for any sort of coping skills that could help me with my bipolar problem, depression, and the fact that nobody at all seemed to want to be around me – including my wife! The nice guy who I thought I was was a figment of my imagination. The truth was that I was horrid.

You wouldn’t want to hear about most of the stuff to which I submitted so that I could begin the long road to becoming someone else. It has been a tough journey, but, at the very least, I can truthfully say that I like myself better than I did before. More importantly, most people seem to be able actually to tolerate me now. It’s been a significant improvement over about twenty-some years.

Here’s a pretty picture of a sensitive plant flower after having been nourished for a month on a secret formula of psychedelic drugs – just in case you’re nodding off:

Spaced-out tickle-me plant flower

I attribute much of my happiness today to New Year’s Resolutions of the past. I never started doing it until I got into serious trouble. That was probably because I never believed it would work. I was so wrong.

I can’t tell you what several of my successful resolutions were, because they would be far too revealing. I’m not much into soul baring in public – it’s too Hollywood. However, I can tell you about a couple that aren’t too personal and really improved my life (not to mention relationships with others).

Have you ever been inside the Toronto subway stations? Some of them are über-cool indeed:

Subway station in Toronto

One resolution that saved me from employment doom was to learn to treat my co-workers with the same cordiality and respect that I (sometimes) accorded to my friends. Simply having to remember day-by-day that I had to pay attention to this, over a period of a year, improved my situation at work remarkably. Gradually I went from the always-grumpy old dude that nobody really wanted to interact with to someone less grumpy who seemed to actually care. Not perfect, but an improvement.

I love the way water drops look on leaves and flowers:

Water drops on a pandanus leaf

New Year’s Resolutions are strange beasts. I think that there’s a sort of placebo effect in action. If you think it will work, and you have no evidence to the contrary, then It probably will. I review my progress on my resolution all year and begin to think about the next one sometime around October.

I’m careful to choose resolutions that I honestly believe that I can accomplish. I will put off an important resolution for another year and try something less challenging if I don’t think I’m ready to achieve a difficult change.

I’ll reveal one other resolution that improved life considerably. Forever I had this annoying and unfair habit of blaming my wife for everything. No matter the situation, I could find a way to make a problem her fault. You guys out there – I bet some of you know exactly what I mean. It goes like this:

“Yes, I know that I goofed up there a little (bashed in the side of the car), but if you hadn’t parked it so close to the rubbish bin when you pulled in, then it wouldn’t have happened.” It sounds like a three-year-old. I could give a thousand more examples.

Here’s a beautiful deep sky over Pig Island. I darkened it by shooting through my polarized sunglasses:

Pig Island sky

Here’s MadDog’s Seven Secrets for Successful New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Resolve to change something significant. Don’t waste your years fixing trivial quirks.
  2. Choose a problem that you think that you have a good chance of fixing. If it seems too difficult, then choose something else. In the intervening year, continue to think about the more challenging problem and invent ways to tackle it the next year.
  3. Enter into the resolution fully committed to it; anything less guarantees failure.
  4. If you’re the praying kind, include your resolution in your prayers. If praying isn’t your thing, then commit yourself to a regular, frequent quiet time of introspection to consider your progress.
  5. From January 1st onwards, make it habitual (easier than you think) to stop and consider your response in every situation that bears on your resolution. Once this habit is in place, you’re more than half-way to success.
  6. Learn to chastise youself appropriately when you fail to live up to your own expectations for your behaviour. Guilt works fine for me. Flog yourself if necessary – this is serious stuff.
  7. No matter what, don’t give up.

Have you seen the new kind of kid’s blow-bubbles stuff that doesn’t pop? The bubbles last for a long time:

Long-lasting bubble

I’ll reveal to you my 2009 New Year’s Resolution:

I’m going to eliminate nasty and offensive expletives and euphemisms from my daily speech – including times when I’m angry or when there’s nobody around even to hear me (Those will be the difficult times to zip my lips!). I picked up the habit in the military and it’s been with me since. I’m tired of it. It makes me sound ignorant. It’s childish and I’m no longer a child. It’s time I stopped.

I’ll let you know how I’m getting along with that.

Happy New Year!

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