|Photo by tanakawho|
It’s no longer the season to be jolly, but the season to turn over a new leaf, or so custom has it. Whether it be loosing weight, giving up smoking or keeping your bedroom tidy; most people will have a New Year’s resolution or two (at least for the first few weeks).
You can tell it’s the New Year, not by looking at the calendar, or even by the weather outside, but by the television. Not, because we’re constantly being reminded by television programmes of the New Year, but rather more subtly (or not as the case may be) by the type of advertisements that we’re being bombarded with at this time of year.
The television advertisers are capitalising on the fact that we all tend to make some (hopefully) life changing promises to ourselves, that we will invariably fail dismally at, but with a little additional help, and perhaps a little hard earned cash, they purport to be able to help us with.
The obvious examples being nicotine patches (and other products) for those giving up (or attempting to) cigarettes and the plethora of diet programmes after the festive gorging season.
Solutions vs. Resolutions
So, why have I titled this post New Year’s solutions, what’s that all about? Well, a Dutch friend of mine once asked what my New Year’s solutions would be.
Obviously a slight slip in translation, but maybe the term “New Year’s Solutions” is actually a better phrase than the traditional New Year’s resolutions. After all, resolutions are normally made to improve things, or fix the perceived inadequacies or problems in our lives, but it’s the actual solutions that really matter, not the intention, or resolution, to do so.
A Helping Hand
The TV advertisements clearly think they can help us to solve our problems. Only, you need to read the small print at the bottom of the adverts. In case you missed it, here it is again (reproduced by kind permission):
Got it this time? So, if you don’t have any, you’ll just be throwing your money away. But hey, you’ll be fuelling the economy right?
Why, on the first of January every year, should we all suddenly decide to sort our lives out and fix all of those niggling little habits or problems that we think, or are told, we have? Why is no other time of year suitable for this kind of decisive and determined action? Is willpower only available in January due to some strange astrological alignment? I think not!
After all, the New Year is a completely arbitrary date. It’s not even the Winter solstice (21 December), which would make much more sense. After this date, days begin to get longer, the flowers begin to wake up after their winter snooze and things generally begin to perk up, at least they do in the Northern Hemisphere.
If you live in the Southern Hemisphere however, things are altogether more depressing, as the days begin to get shorter and the weather generally colder.
Perhaps the Southern Hemisphere should celebrate it’s New Year’s day on 21 June, the diametrically opposed solstice. After all, they do everything else topsy turvey, like having BBQs on the beach for Christmas diner!
Not only this, but the diet people and nicotine patch brigade would have two chances at the seasonal sales bonanza, one for the Northern Hemisphere’s New Year and one for the Southern Hemisphere‘s, with a consequently improved cash flow for the year.
Chinese New Year
The Chinese have gone one stage further and fully embraced the arbitrary nature of the New Year, as their their New Year doesn’t start on a fixed date, but is linked to the lunar cycle, being the first day of the first lunar month of the Chinese calendar, and falls between 21 January and 20 February.
So, if you follow the traditional western (Gregorian) calendar and find yourself failing with your New Year’s resolutions towards the end of January, you could suddenly come over all Zen like and give yourself a second bite at the cherry with your resolutions (and a second evening’s celebrations) by adopting the Chinese calendar. Alternatively you could just admit defeat until the same time next year.
For the Chinese however, the flexible date for the New Year can either turn out to be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on your perspective, as some years will be longer or shorter than other years.
So, if you expect your New Year’s resolutions to be particularly difficult to accomplish, it may be best to coordinate them with one of the longer years. On the other hand, if you expect to fail miserably with your chosen resolutions, then try and pick a shorter year so you can get the humiliation of your failure over with quicker!
One Day’s as Good as the Next
We all have things in our lives that we probably want to improve or fix, so why wait for New Year?
I haven’t really got any New Year’s resolutions, other than to try and de-clutter, simplify things and become a little more organised. It’s not that I’m disorganised as such, but I just want to be a little more organised; without developing any other excessive Germanic tendencies if possible.
Aren’t these New Year’s resolutions? No, because I was trying to achieve these goals before the New Year. Why should I wait for the New Year?
If you must have a New Year’s resolution though, perhaps it’s best to decide to keep last year’s resolutions (if you can remember that far back) instead of creating a whole new list that you’re not going to achieve and then feel bad about it all year!