Another round of holidays is over, and if you get yourself a teeth-grating hangover sometime this week, do not curse, but instead congratulate yourself on getting through this past year without ending up in the looney bin. This is especially true of the last part of the year, when we all had to endure various media speculating on What the Top Story of the Year was. Usually one can say, "Unless you live in a cave you'd know what the top story was," but this year even people who do live in caves know. They kind of were the top story of the year.
People were less interested in ringing in the new year than in practicing their squats so that when midnight struck and brought in 2002, they could haul 2001 to the door like a blabby drunk and give it a muscular, healthy, meaningful kick in the ass as they bid it goodbye forever. It was a bad year. Nobody was sorry to see it go.
With the party over, you're stuck with resolutions. This is the time you consider things about yourself that suck, and that you promise to improve. There are two problems with resolutions, however. One is that they're made on the biggest hangover day of the year when you don't have your wits about you, so you make dumb, unimaginative declarations about avoiding fried foods or getting a better job, instead of thinking in a clear-headed way about what you really want: to control the flow of time so that sex lasts longer and the work day goes by like a greased bullet. No wonder you're never happy. You never resolve to strive for what you really want.
The other problem with resolutions is, of course, acting on them. For instance: This year I resolve to win the Miss Drumstick contest at the Chicken-Plucking Festival in Spring Hill. After that, I'll grow a beard and retire to write my memoirs, "Tales of a Bearded Pageant Queen."
Sounds good, doesn't it? Who wouldn't be gung-ho for that? Making resolutions is easy. Keeping them is a bitch, and -- after an extensive study that took up the better part of an afternoon -- I think I know why. It's not because they take discipline and tenacity. It's because we give ourselves smarmy, deceitful reasons for wanting to make these changes in the first place. People say things like, "I want to get in better shape for my health," and "I want more challenge in my work, so I'm going to get a better job." Please. Who can possibly keep resolutions with insipid Stuart Smalley motivations like those? If people only did things because they were right and good, we wouldn't need jails.
So if you want to steel your resolve, whether it was to get in shape, quit smoking, find love, make more money or get rid of whatever is holding you back, the first thing you have to do is dump the inane altruism down the drain. Stop acting like you're pure of heart and admit the real reasons you want to make life changes, and you might actually keep those resolutions. Instead of namby-pamby good will, keep in mind motivations such as these:
Jealousy: Face it, the number of people out there one-upping you is obscene. You want to be the one who is admired and healthy, and who doesn't count the TV as one of your best friends. If you don't keep your resolve, the continued knowledge of your inferiority will gnaw away at you. And, next year wouldn't you rather be causing ulcers instead of getting them?
Vengeance: Someone slighted you this past year, made you look bad, caused you despair or ill-feelings, whether they intended it or not. You want to forgive and forget, but you just aren't evolved enough. (Besides, indignation feels better.) Stick to your resolve and perhaps by next year you'll be either powerful enough to get even or too self-assured to care.
The good opinion of others: You can tell yourself that what other people think doesn't matter, but you know it really does -- especially if you suspect they're thinking you don't have a full-length mirror in the house. Don't give them more ammo.
Sex: You may tell yourself you just want to better your health, but come on. Given the choice between clear arteries and serious porn-style action, most people of sense would take the latter. It's the only motivation you've really had, and pretending to have matured hasn't gotten you anywhere. Resolve to become more attractive physically, emotionally, financially or intellectually. You'll get more.
There. If depth hasn't been getting you where you want to go all these years, try a little shallowness and see if you don't find yourself walking right out of the soup. And, if you think I'm trying to help for altruistic reasons, think again. You don't think I do this for free, do you?
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