Thursday, December 27, 2012

At this time of year, many people make New Year's resolutions.  They say they'll excercise more, eat fewer fattening foods, perhaps drink less or spend less time surfing the Internet.  Quit smoking.  But it's hard to resist that yummy carrot cake.  Sometimes we're too tired to work out for a whole hour several times a week.  Facebook is fun, and all those videos and articles so interesting, time suck that they may be. 

We want to do better, be better, yet often allow the desire for instant gratification to self-sabotage us and our good intentions.  Many things may be fun in the moment, but can cause guilt, remorse or lower self-esteem after the fact.  Did we really need that whole half gallon of ice cream?  Well, at least it's Edy's Slow Churned.

Almost all resolutions require self-discipline.  Can we dig deep and find it now when we didn't have it before?  Many of us need to rely on outside sources.  Some have productivity, exercise or writing buddies who help them stay on track, either working with them or checking in to be sure they've met agreed upon goals.  Some impose monetary penalties on themselves or cancel social events if, say, they procrastinate.  Some use apps that cut off access to the Internet.  Others who lack self-control may need even more help to attain positive results.

Why can't people just be trustworthy?  Why don't citizens always do as we should and/or obey laws?  Speed bumps on neighborhood streets insure we don't go over the limit.  Red light cameras prove that we did or didn't enter the intersection on the yellow.  Nanny cams make sure caregivers are properly tending to children instead of, say, talking on the phone or watching TV.  GPS devices on phones and in cars tell parents where their kids are (unless the kid finds a way to jimmy them).          

The only way to be absolutely sure that people are doing what they say they will isn't usually feasible:  24/7 monitoring.  It's rare that a spouse or significant other, or mother and child, or partners, will be in each other's company every minute of every day.  So how do we really know what they're doing or not doing? 

How would you know if, say, your husband did in fact quit smoking? What's sufficient proof? Not finding cigarettes in his car or briefcase?  Not smelling smoke on his clothes or breath?  He might have quit.  Or he might be going to great lengths to make it seem like he did so he doesn't disappoint his spouse.  Even though he's still disappointing himself. 

So it comes back to self-discipline. The person should want to change for himself, not to please someone else.  What changes do you want to make?      

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