Starting the New Year right

WITH only a few hours left in the “life” of the year 2019, we brace ourselves for the birth of New Year 2020.  What an insightful year! Remember, a 20/20 vision in optometry is when our focus is at its best. We could be seeing a more colorful year ahead.

For some of us, what’s in store is already written in the stars. But that’s a fatalistic and myopic way of navigating the next 12 months of the year. That would be like Juan Tamad waiting for the guava to fall on his mouth.

Should it not be for us to write a wish to work for? We call that “New Year’s resolution.” Have you written and borne in mind yours? It could be easier said than done. We know of people who have resolved to quit smoking, only to eventually give up the resolution itself – not smoking.

We know of others who have benefited from shedding off the old habits and adopting the new. I have an overweight friend who abandoned the habit of eating steaks in “fine-dining” restaurants. Instead, he now patronizes the lowly carinderias serving fish and vegetables. The shift paid off in leaner, healthier body.

Another ideal way to end the year right is to be debt-free through careful spending. Spend no more than you earn, even if you have a credit card. The bigger the bill on that card, the bigger the interest you have to pay.

A better alternative to the credit card is the debit card – which actually represents the bank depositor’s savings — because what’s in it is earned, not borrowed, money.  

We like to think of New Year’s resolution as another Christian tradition. But it is not. The tradition of writing a New Year’s resolution had preceded the Christian era. It began in ancient Babylon over 3,000 years ago sans spiritual implication. The figurative “turning a new leaf” could be done on any date.

While anybody from any religion may write a New Year’s resolution, it was 15th-century Roman Catholic Bishop John H. Vincent who is be popularized the yearly practice with these words:

“I will this day try to live a simple, sincere and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity and self-seeking, cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity and the habit of holy silence, exercising economy in expenditure, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust and a child-like trust in God.”

If the items in Bishop Vincent’s resolution are not found in present-day versions – say, the promise to stop smoking – it’s simply because they were irrelevant in his time when only the chimneys spewed smoke.  

For a New Year’s resolution to succeed there must always be a strong motive. The resolution to lose weight, for instance, is always anchored on the individual’s strong desire to look attractive or to live healthier and longer.

Resolving to bet and win in the lotto is counter-productive and unrealistic. The chance of hitting the right 6/55 combination, for instance, is one in 28 million.

Be specific. Instead of saying, “I will no longer be lazy,” resolve to “maximize time for work and minimize time for TV viewing.”

Break down large goals into smaller ones. Instead of vowing to “lose weight,” you could do better “to abandon weight-gaining foods and to exercise every morning.” 

Look for alternatives to bad habits. You’d be more successful in stopping smoking if you visit a non-smoking air-conditioned mall.

Remember, finally, to make them happen on target. ([email protected]/PN)

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