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New Year resolutions
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 12 - 01 - 2012

By Lubna Abdel-Aziz
A need comes over us to take charge and improve! Every limb in our bodies is penetrated by a feeling of freshness, an excitement and an almost superhuman power to accomplish and succeed. It is hard to conceive of a better time than the New Year, for new hope and optimism. If we consider the main quality that distinguishes every beginning, it is enthusiasm and a sense of adventure, be it a new marriage, birth, job home or school. The birth of a new year brings a unique contribution, setting us on the road to a new course for our lives.
Long before there was a calendar, early man celebrated the coming of the New Year in the Spring. That was the law of Nature, the time when it miraculously exploded with its display of multitudinous colours, fragrance and freshness, setting the stage for love and romance. Starting a new year in spring makes sense, but with the establishment of many calendars, it now falls in the dim of mid-winter, but has not totally robbed us of its many joys. We welcome the new year by cheering, celebrating, and making new resolutions.
Resolutions are as old as New Year celebrations. Our ancestors also resolved to pay their debts, return borrowed tools, or mend the leak in the roof. They are therefore, a cultural heritage. Once made, resolutions are seldom kept, though we have the best of intentions. Statistics show only three per cent among us stick to our resolutions and achieve our goals. As for the rest of us, "the soul is willing, but the flesh is weak." We are too lazy, too distracted and definitely too weak. To succeed we must organise or re-organise our priorities, but not all of us are adept at being organised. Despite the ultimate failure, we continue to resolve.
Among the most common 10 resolutions, 1st on this year's list is 'spending time' with family and friends. Time is brief, and before we know it, it flees and we are left with regret. This is a good resolution, worthy of keeping. Number 2 is 'physical fitness', very important, but often neglected. We must be making headway in the obesity department as the resolve to 'tame the bulge' has dropped to 3rd, from 1st place last year. 'Quitting smoking' still a problem holds 4th place , and 'enjoying life' settles on 5th. If you drink and smoke, you can forget numbers 4,5 and 6, since number 6 is to 'quit drinking'. Like our forefathers 'paying debt' is a must, falling at number 7. My favourite is number 8, 'learn something new'. I might just add, each day if possible. Learning a new language is a great asset. The most human of all is 'helping others'. It is taught by all religions, and caring for your fellow man earns God's blessing. Last, but not least, is number 10 on the list, 'get organised', which should be number 1. If you are organized, everything falls in place, with grace. Why do those fine resolutions, lie by the wayside, a bundle of broken promises and shattered dreams..? Are we too lazy, or are the resolutions too broad, too colossal?
Here are some ideas, perhaps simpler and easier to achieve, while still improving the quality of our lives.
Become more forgiving of others' mistakes and shortcomings. Do not vent anger on spouse, children, neighbour or boss. Nothing is worth the consequences of anger. "To err is human, to forgive, divine"; opt for the divine.
If you err ask for forgiveness! Often in life, the two most important words are "I apologise". Go ahead and say them. They cost nothing and are easier than you think. You can rise no higher than your lowest opinion of others.
This is often a time when depression sets in. When the bubble bursts, you may be faced with a reality you dislike. The rate of suicide is at its highest during the month of February, in Sweden, Russia and the US. Loneliness is a detrimental emotion, leading to tragic consequences. If you are feeling blue and lonely, seek the company and comfort of friends. Life is often, no, always unfair, but it does offer a few pleasures. If we are smart enough to see them, we should be smart enough to enjoy them.
You are never a loser, until you quit, so do not quit. Wake up each morning and be thankful for the gift of life. Draw a positive plan for each day, and execute it. Rise and shine is far better than rise and whine.
It is never too late to find love. Live your dreams, not your fears. All great journeys start with a dream.
Good health lies at the bottom of the barrel, but nothing can be enjoyed without it. We never realize its value until it is lost. The young feel indestructible, but they pay the bill later in life. Every day is a good day to care for your health.
If God is by our side, we are never alone. Never underestimate the power of faith. It gives us a priceless sense of peace, and that is a priority.
Last but not least, practice laughter. Retain your sense of humour, and take nothing too seriously. Life is brief, life is a moment. Make each moment a happy one, and each New Year, a happy New Year.
He who laughs, lasts. (Anonymous)

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