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The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

By the way... there's a crossword at the bottom of this page

Monday, December 31, 2012

Up The Resolution


Have you thought up a New Year's resolution yet? That's the tradition, after all... make a resolution for the new year; some personal improvement, perhaps. Start a diet, strive for more, become more (or less) assertive, change how we interact with others, and so on.

I made a resolution many years ago which changed my life. I have stuck to it for many, many years now. And that's a problem, isn't it? Sticking to a New Year's resolution. We make them, often announce them to friends and/or family, and then abandon them within days or weeks.

Resolutions are just difficult to keep for very long. Experts tell us we should not make grandiose ones, that we have a better chance of keeping ones that entail making only a small change in our behavior. And that making several small, seemingly insignificant, ones will not only be more easily kept but will produce the significant change we want.

Of course, that presumes we can break down the behavior we wished to change into its component parts. Perhaps into its smallest component parts. Most of us cannot do that. It takes a self-awareness that would, to me, preclude our developing the behaviors we have come to dislike in the first place.

My favorite analogy regarding resolutions is about the times I tried to quit smoking as a teen. I tried on many occasions to quit that habit. I don't recall if I ever used it as a New Year's resolution but I don't think that matters. A resolution is a resolution, is it not? I would decide to quit at the end of a day wherein I had smoked more than my usual pack a day. I would throw away the remains of whatever pack I had in my pocket. I would resolve firmly (in my mind) to not smoke again and go home and go to bed.

In the morning, I would get up, get dressed, and head off for school or whatever I was going to do that day. As I started out, I would habitually tap my shirt pocket and realize it was empty. I would then stop at the 7-Eleven a couple of blocks from my house and buy a pack of cigarettes. Yes, I would have completely forgotten that I had resolved to quit smoking. I would buy the pack, open it, shake or tap out a cigarette, stick in in my mouth, light it, and continue on my way to wherever I was going. Often, it would not be until I was on my second or third smoke that I would remember my resolution.

There were other behaviors, other habits, that I needed to break in order to quit.  I just hadn't broken it down yet. You see, a behavior, a habit, isn't just one thing. It's a group of supporting behaviors/habits which grow up around the one you dislike and you may be almost completely unaware of these.

Oh, that one resolution I made way back when? The one I have always kept?

To never make another New Year's Resolution.


4 comments:

Inspector Clouseau said...

Good ending, "punch line" Douglas. Didn't see that one coming.

My resolution is to ensure that my Father is in better health by the end of the year, than he is today. We've had to call 911 three times since December 26, 2012, the most recent being this morning. We just brought him home from his 3rd hospitalization for fainting spells, and each time they found absolutely nothing. We're on a mission this 2013. He'll be better and I'll be better.

Douglas said...

A noble and worthy goal, Inspector, and I wish you success.

Tom Sightings said...

Just read a book called "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business" by Charles Duhigg, that expands on your very analysis, if you're interested. Still, it's one thing to know how to change or form a habit, and quite another to actually be able DO it. Which is why I'm with you when it comes to new Year's resolutions.

Douglas said...

I have always thought that "knowledge is power". Given the knowledge, one can sometimes find a way to do most anything.