Friday, December 31, 2010

Word Wonder -- resolution

New Year's Eve 2010

1. The act of resolving or of reducing to a simpler form.  2. The state of being resolute; active fortitude; resoluteness.  3. The making of a resolve; also, the purpose or course resolved upon; a resolve; determination.  4. The separation of anything into its component parts.  5. A proposition offered to or adopted by an assembly. [from the Latin resolvere, made up of re-, meaning "again," and solvere, meaning "to loosen"] -- Funk & Wagnall's Canadian College Dictionary

"A New Year's Resolution is something that
goes in one year and out the other."
by Anonymous

New Year's Resolutions -- an effective tool for personal change or a pointless exercise in self-delusion...?

For thousands of years, people around the world have seen the beginning of a new year as a time of hope for the future. Even though the new year is considered to start on different dates, depending on the culture and calendar, it is often seen as the doorway to new possibilities.

I found it interesting to discover that the word "resolution" comes from an ancient word meaning "to loosen again." Loosen what? Maybe to loosen and let go of old problems and attitudes. In some cultures and times the custom has been to open the back door as the clock first strikes at midnight; this allows the old to get out. Then as the clock strikes for the twelfth time, the front door is opened, inviting in the newness of the new year. Other people eat one grape for each strike of the clock as New Year's Eve turns into the new day...thereby hoping for prosperity and good luck in the coming year.

I like the image these small actions invoke. They remind me of the kiss at midnight that is part of the tradition with which I grew up. Apparently, this practice grew from a custom of holding masked balls on New Year's Eve. Then, at the stroke of midnight, everyone would lift off their masks (representing the removal of evil spirits) and kiss, to admit kinder spirits and purify the new year.

So all this hope and forward-looking leads us back to the idea of New Year's Resolutions. Are they effective? Do people actually stick to them, and do their lives improve as a result? Well, according to some statistics I found, almost half of North American adults make one or more resolutions each year (not necessarily only on January 1). Of those, approximately half maintain the new change  for at least six months. Frankly, that's more than I expected.

What I do know is that people who make specific, conscious resolutions -- at any time -- are ten times more likely to reach those goals than people who don't. What's this about? It's about focussing on what you want and injecting your plan with positive thoughts, feelings, and actions. It's about slowing down the usual pace of life and reconsidering habitual patterns. It's about being willing to consider that change is possible...and then being willing to risk reaching away from the known and toward unfamiliar newness.

Though I have never been one to give much credence to New Year's Resolutions, I do believe strongly in hope and the power of conscious change. I doubt that I'll suddenly start making resolutions on January 1, but I am likely to continue being open to possibilities for change when that is right for me. And that might be at any moment of the year.

So for you, and for me, as this new year approaches, I hold out hope and belief that whatever we decide and pay attention to and invest in is what we will get.

Happy New Year & Happy Right Now!!


Anonymous said...

Nicely said Kate! Like you, I'm not a New Year's resolution kind of gal. I do, however, believe in the 'power of conscious change'. Here, here - let's see what we can do in 2011!

Kate Thompson said...

Thanks. And, yes, let's see!! I hope you have a wonderful year.