~article originally published in February/March 2006 Parents’ Source~
British psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall, a specialist in seasonal disorders, has calculated that January 24 is "the most depressing day of the year." The last of the holiday cheer is gone, the weather is awful, the holiday bills are starting to come in--and almost everyone has already fallen off the New Year's resolution wagon. You too? Maybe that's because we are all sick to death of trying to turn over the same old new leaf every year based on some arbitrary turn of a calendar page. Lose weight. Get organized. Spend less. Quit smoking. But it's never too late to break the cycle with brave new anytime-is-the-right-time resolutions that actually have a chance of sticking. It's all in your outlook.
1. Eat breakfast. If you are not a "breakfast person," force yourself for two weeks and see if you don't feel different. The body of scientific evidence is overwhelming - if you skip breakfast, you are continuing to starve a brain that has already gone at least eight hours without fuel. Productivity and mental activity in both adults and children will plummet.
2. Read the op-ed page of your newspaper and no matter how it may turn your stomach, especially read the opinions of writers with whom your violently disagree. Knowing what others are thinking and doing is the only way to confront both complacency and extremism intelligently and proactively.
3. Buy and wear only the jeans that fit you - not the ones you would like to fit into. Yes, they make you look fat. You are not a sausage in a casing, so why go around looking and feeling like one?
4. Stop doing your child's homework. You already passed the 5th grade. We were stunned this year when our son's math teacher told us she does not give homework because it was too often being done by parents and siblings. "Homework" is now done within the class period so she can see firsthand what her students actually know.
5. Give up one noise-polluting gadget, especially if it's one that reverberates through the entire neighborhood or household, like leaf-blowers and amplified sound systems. The word "noise" comes from the Latin word meaning "nausea." Second-hand noise can be just as irritating and debilitating as second-hand smoke. Reduce it and you will not only earn the gratitude of your neighbors - and yes, they do mind even if they never say so - but taking up the rake moves you in the direction of the most popular resolution that we're not discussing here, the one everyone makes and breaks.
6. Stop lying to your dentist about how often you floss, and to your doctor about your daily cheesecake fix. You hire these people to take care of you. That's the most important job there is, and the least you can do is give them accurate information with which to do it.
7. Resolve to carry on fewer vapid cell phone conversations in public places where they annoy others to distraction and, worse, spread personal information to parties who shouldn't be hearing it.
8. Shop local. Dollar spent at locally-owned restaurants, coffee houses, farmer's markets, consignment shops, book stores, and service outlets stay and work in your community rather than some faceless corporate shareholder's pocket.
9. Make a list of the things you "can't live without" - and then live without one of them. Put the money and/or the time to a better use. Naturally, you will not choose to "live without" things on your list who are blood relatives, dear pals, and furry friends. If you are having trouble imagining doing without, think tsunami, think Katrina, think Pakistan earthquake. Most of the stuff in our lives and houses is just that - stuff. What can you really not live without? Could you make it happen for someone who really is without?
10. Resolve to help your children clean up their English. Most of the world speaks the language now, better than we do in many cases. In your child's lifetime, it's only a matter of time until his "And then he went, like, wow, awesome!" loses the job interview or client bid to his competitor's "And then he said it was a good solution." Set the example you want them to follow.
This year, eat your breakfast in jeans that fit.