Can you believe another year is almost history?
It seems like yesterday that we did this, but here we are on the cusp of another New Year. I have a theory as to why it is that when you’re younger the years seem to drag along so slowly, but as you grow older, the years appear to fly by.
My theory is a simple one. It’s because as adults we begin to pay closer attention to the calendar, which means we’re never in the moment while as youngsters we’re not worried about having the money for the mortgage payment or thinking about all the other bills that come due at the end of the month. When you’re young, you live in the moment, letting someone else worry about those things and you just go with the flow.
But such is life and as we mature we come to understand that increased responsibility comes with age and there is nothing we can do to change that reality.
Nevertheless, here we are and January 1, 2019 is just few short days away. A new year is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts. It’s a time to take stock of where we are and to make resolutions but have you ever wondered about why we follow this annual tradition? Well I have and here’s a simple explanation that I’ve found.
A New Year’s resolution is basically a promise people make for the New Year and it is always made at the dawning of January 1. Regardless of what resolution you commit to, the goal is to improve life in the coming year.
Resolutions can come in many forms. Some people make a promise to change a bad habit, such as quitting smoking or eating less junk food. Other people make a promise to develop a positive habit, such as starting an exercise program, volunteering in their community, taking more personal time for themselves, being more generous and helpful or recycling more.
The tradition of New Year’s resolutions dates all the way back to 153 B.C. January is named after Janus, a mythical god of early Rome. Janus had two faces — one looking forward, one looking backward. This allowed him to look back on the past and forward toward the future.
On December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking backward into the old year and forward into the New Year. This became a symbolic time for Romans to make resolutions for the New Year and forgive enemies for troubles in the past.
The Romans also believed Janus could forgive them for their wrongdoings in the previous year. The Romans would give gifts and make promises, believing Janus would see this and bless them in the year ahead. And in doing so, the New Year’s resolution was born.
I like to look at every New Year as an opportunity to turn over a new leaf. It’s a time to start fresh, especially if the previous 12 months have been tumultuous ones. This past year has been an interesting one for me, a time filled with ups and downs, but thankfully it’s been filled with more high points than low points. A new year is also a good time to take stock of the important things in our lives and to reflect on what the future holds.
On the eve of the New Year then, when you make your resolutions, I’d like to challenge each and every one of you to make promises that you can keep. For example, instead of resolving to lose 20 pounds (which is an admirable goal, mind you) why not make a promise that you can uphold such as resolving to be a better person.
What do I mean, you might ask. Well, for starters, why not resolve to be a better citizen? We can do that by promising to be better human beings. We could all stand a dose of humanity so let’s resolve to be more compassionate, understanding and helpful people.
We can also resolve to be more lenient toward our enemies and more tolerant to those who may not fit our view of the “normal” world — whatever normal is.
Let’s also resolve to be more positive and supportive and promise to be less negative and derogatory in our communities. Let’s build up those who have vision and want to change our world instead of tearing down those who dare to dream and who try to make a difference.
Let’s promise to embrace those who go out on a limb to improve our communities instead of ridiculing those who make the effort and let’s resolve to say nothing if we can’t say something positive.
These may seem like intangible goals and objectives but if every one of us made a vow to be better neighbours and to make a contribution to our communities instead of expecting others to carry the load, then what a wonderful world we would have.
I encourage you to think about what you can do to make a difference and on December 31, when you’re celebrating the arrival of the New Year, make a promise that you can keep by resolving to either be a builder or to cheer those who are the builders. When you do this, you’ll make a valuable contribution to our communities.
As for the weight loss, why not pledge to pay attention to what you eat and to be more physically active?
As 2019 is about to begin, I wish you all a safe, healthy and prosperous New Year. The most important thing, however, is to take care of yourself and your family as everything else can wait, or least that’s the view from here.
Vernon Oickle was born and raised in Liverpool where he continues to reside with his family. He has worked for more than 30 years in community newspapers on the South Shore and is the author of 28 books.