ENID, Okla. —
I resolve to ...
You hear those words often this week, as people all over the world examine their lives and vow to make meaningful changes in the year that stretches out before us like a newly paved road.
The most popular resolutions, at least in this country, involve losing weight, volunteering to help others, quitting smoking, getting a better education and getting a better job, at least according to the USA.gov website.
Perhaps the government needs to spend more time tending to its own knitting and not worrying about us ordinary folks.
According to a new poll conducted by the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Research, a majority of Americans have a profoundly pessimistic view of the government. Some 70 percent of Americans say they lack confidence in the government’s ability “to make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014.” Half of those responding say America’s government needs “a lot of changes,” or a complete overhaul.
To reverse this trend, perhaps the government should resolve to snoop less into the ordinary affairs of Mr. and Mrs. America, to fix the Affordable Care Act website, to stop spending way more money than it takes in and to behave like a bunch of civilized adults (Are you listening, Congress?).
At any rate, the rest of the government’s list of top resolutions made annually by Americans includes saving money; getting fit; eating healthy food; managing stress; managing debt; taking a trip; reducing, reusing and recycling; and drinking less alcohol.
All are admirable goals. All are likewise things many of us have been pledging to do for many years.
My top annual resolutions are to lose weight by eating healthier and getting more exercise. Had I lived up to them over the years, by this time of my life I would subsist on a diet of tofu, leaves and tree bark, would weigh 100 pounds soaking wet and would run 100-mile supermarathons once or twice a week, all the while carrying a 25-pound dumbbell in each hand.
I don’t know why I even bother. I might as well resolve to sprout wings and fly, or to wrestle an alligator.
So this year I’ve decided to some up with a list of realistic, hopefully attainable resolutions.
First, I resolve to try and lose weight. I know about the whole “Star Wars,” Yoda-speak “Do or do not, there is no try,” thing, but we’re being realistic here. Put it this way, I resolve to not stuff everything into my face I can get my hands on, as I did throughout the holiday season (at least not until next holiday season, at any rate).
In the same vein, I resolve to try and get exercise. I am not setting my sights on running a marathon, just doing more than merely walking back and forth to the bathroom.
I also resolve to not lose my temper. I’ve already been working on this one. Our Christmas tree is still up, and, at this rate, may be up until Easter. Anyway, our two cats decided to stage a feline MMA battle underneath the tree the other day, and one or both became tangled in the light cord. Suddenly the tree began to spin as if possessed, flinging ornaments here and there, the Santa Claus tree-topper flying off and landing face down on the carpeting.
“It’s coming down,” yelled my bride, as I struggled to keep the tree vertical while corralling the livestock. The tree remained upright, no ornaments were broken and I didn’t lose my cool. For their part, the animals were unrepentant.
Finally, I plan to follow the advice a coach once gave to one of his players, a piece of wisdom I gleaned from an article I read this year. I can neither remember the name of the athlete, nor the coach, but that’s beside the point. The coach advised his charge to never take the field with clenched teeth.
In other words, don’t play scared, stressed or worried, don’t approach a game riddled with anxiety or gripped by anger; instead, play with confidence and have fun.
What a great way to live, to shed stress and worry and replace them with confidence and enthusiasm. It’s hard to smile through clenched teeth, but easy to grimace.
So that’s my goal for 2014, to not go around with my teeth clenched with anxiety and doubt, but instead to not take myself, or anything else, too seriously.
Oh, and I vow to lose weight and get more exercise, too. I can’t help myself, I’m a traditionalist. But I’ve decided to work on that whole sprouting wings thing, too.
And I resolve to not write any more columns about New Year’s resolutions. At least not this year.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.