Published: 17th December 2018
Do New Year resolutions deliver? Here are some of the best examples of resolutions people make every year
New Year and resolutions go together. We look at shedding our dirty baggage and hugging elusive virtues
The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective — G K Chesterton (1874-1936), versatile English writer
This is the question that most of us would have as New Year approaches and we look for resolutions to make. New Year and resolutions go together. We look at shedding our dirty baggage and hugging elusive virtues. Such baggage includes minor vices like drinking, smoking and gambling and major sins from the Ten Commandments like ‘Don’t covet your neighbour’s wife’. Major or minor, Hawthorne (1804-1864; American novelist) cautions us on resolutions. “In truth, there is no such thing in a man’s nature as a resolve for good or evil, except at the very moment of execution.”
We will first briefly deal with a minor vice like drinking. “A camel can go without a drink for fifteen days – but who wants to be a camel?” On such loaded slogan rides the bottle-masters far and away from sobriety. They have a hundred quotes to support or rationalise their life in the wild anarchy of drink. “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die” – said Seneca (65 AD, Roman philosopher) on a suicide note. Others have spoken of drinking to drown sorrow. Yet others have hugged the bottle on the pretense of relaxation, social customs, and entertainment. The fraternity of bottle-masters claims that there are more old drunkards than old doctors or preachers. Even Shakespeare seems ambivalent on the subject.
In Julius Caesar he says,
Give me a bowl of wine.
In this, I bury all unkindness.
Having resolved to turn back on drink, one of the most important things to do is not to expose to temptation. The drunkard normally boasts that he has enough will power to give up at will. Such a one, after announcing his resolution to give up, insisted that he would walk by the town’s sole bar – against all advice against it. And when he came alongside the bar, he stood still in front of it, as if in meditation. Then he said to himself: “Resolution stand firm – I am going in.”
Leaving aside smoking and coming to womanising, or the other way for the opposite sex, in addition to eternal damnation, promised for breaking one of the Ten Commandments, one should think of the collateral damage here and now. You can end up becoming bald before your time.
I want to conclude on a hopeful note. Greatness, they say, is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. For us in India, there are many opportunities to rise. January 1 is only one of the many landmarks we have to make resolutions. On a personal level, we have our birthdays and wedding anniversaries to anchor our resolutions.
Then, there is April 1 which is the start of the financial year. Then, there are regional new years and other landmarks like Ugadi, Pongal, Onam and Diwali. But, don’t give up.
To also conclude with Shakespeare in Julius Caesar:
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all their life is bound in shallows and miseries.