…And a Happy New Year to you too!
Sorry to start the new year with negativity, but to me, avoiding resolutions is a worthwhile pursuit. My future is between God and me not to be left up to wishful thinking to share at a New Year’s Eve party, or worse a status update that I can still reread in 6 months when the goal remains unfulfilled.
2014 was not the best year. I struggled with a serious health issue, left my full time job and it’s lovely salary, have struggled with my fiance’s immigration, and continue to live far from my extended family I was once very close to.
Like most Americans I am a positive person. Gallup polls even show that the United States is among the top 50 most positive nations in the world with “78% of Americans surveyed being positive and showing feelings of general optimism.” I am not one to deny this part of my American identity, so of course I am focusing on the good things of 2014, so let’s try this again.
2014 was the best year. I am thrilled to be writing professionally, making television appearances using my expertise in politics, had a UN fellowship, and joined the staff Coming of Faith.
Yes, I have left the security of regular work, I struggle financially, my fiancé and I are still separated by 8,000 miles, my family is still living far away from me, and I am still finishing up treatment for my health issue, but as an American I must not think about that (is my sarcasm showing, I think it is).
It’s 1/1/2015 and suddenly not only am I supposedly a positive American but now I have to positively project my future?
New Year’s resolutions in America derive from Protestant British settlers in American hoping to encourage “emotional and physical restraint in the face of life’s indulgences… creating life-long discipline” as stated by Oxford Journal’s Social Forces, sociologist Isidor Thorner. This same idea was also used by Mahatma Gandhi in Self Restrain V. Self Indulgence. Gandhi suggests striving for a balance by making conscience daily choices, instead of changing one’s lifestyle in one day. He encouraged this to promote “daily growing.”
With founding American Colonist simply hoping for modest servants of God, and Gandhi’s ideal of daily growing in mind, I find myself warming to the idea of making a New Year’s Resolution. I decided to look for examples of those early American’s resolutions, only to discover that there are no records of these until because of lack of popularity. New Year’s resolutions only became popular in America following the Great Depression, out of a “desperation for hope” as historian at the Constitution Center stated.
Post-Great Depression American Adults’ New Year’s Resolutions from 1947 as recorded by Gallup:
“1. Improve my disposition, be more understanding, control my temper
2. Improve my character, live a better life
3. Stop smoking, smoke less
4. Save more money
5. Stop drinking, drink less
6. Be more religious, go to church oftener
7. Be more efficient, do a better job
8. Take better care of my health
9. Take greater part in home life
10. Lose (or gain) weight”
5/10 of those resolutions are for good works, MashaAllah maybe I should do that, but 50% isn’t that compelling of a case. I don’t want to fall into the trappings of “False Hopes of Self Change” which happens to be the title of 2002 American Psychologist article by Janet Polivy and C. Peter Herman. They stressed the points that resolutions create false hope and create “unhealthy over-confidence.” With 46% of Americans who made New Year’s Resolutions whom were then studied for 6 months by University of Scranton, reporting as “non-resolvers” …why should I risk failure? Why even create the opportunity for failure, when 2014 already gave me so many difficulties? Shouldn’t I instead leave 2015 up to God?
Sure, a resolution is kind of like a prayer when you ask “God, help me pass this test” but it is to such extremes it doesn’t allow room for real life issues to get in the way or for God’s plans to intervene.
The University of Scranton’s data showed the top New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 were:
- Lose weight
2. Getting organized
3. Spend less, save more
4. Enjoy life to the fullest
5. Stay fit and healthy
6. Learn something exciting
7. Quit smoking
8. Help others in their dreams
9. Fall in love
10. Spend more time with family
With the exceptions 8 and 10, these are all very self involved. I cannot help but wonder if I was to ask for God’s help to fulfill a resolution, would I really be ok asking for these things?
Perhaps, I am too narcotic for my own good. I just imagine having to answer for my foolish, and selfish prayers when I get to Jannah.
God would ask, “Jillian on 1/1/2015 why did you ask me to ‘help me get organized’ instead of making dua’as for those in need?”
I cannot not think of an acceptable answer so I think I should avoid being put in the position of having to be asked.
I sincerely hope and pray for all of us to have a better 2015 than 2014, but for now I will make no resolutions.
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