As I write this, 2013 is one month old. Perhaps it is a bit late to be writing about New Year’s resolutions as opposed to, say, the Super Bowl. Heck, February is when most people start to forget they made resolutions in the first place.  But, because KU decided to generously give us an extra long winter break, you will have to just bear with me.

A resolution is generally made after drinking one too many glasses of cheap champagne (or sparkling cider) amongst friends. In all of your intoxicated jubilance, you sit around and make vows to improve yourselves in the next 12 months. Some might make meaningful resolutions, like promising to go to Church more often or spend more time with family and less time in houses of ill repute.  But I think we all know everyone’s favorite resolution: lose those last 10, or 15, or 100 pounds.  Many of you will, after six to eight weeks of regrettable overindulgence, vow to let nary a potato chip or slice of pizza cross your lips till the damage has been undone. You swear to yourself that you’ll start getting up at the crack of dawn to run 10 miles before your Spartan breakfast of eggwhites and children’s tears. Yessir, you have an iron will. By year’s end, you’ll be a different person.

So, for the next several weeks, you dive right in. You rise early for sun salutations, eat more salad than you care to think about and start expanding your vocabulary with words like ‘glycemic index’ and ‘monounsaturated fat.’ What’s more, you’ll become insufferable to be around. At lunch, you’ll chomp on your nuts and berries (fuel for the temple that is your body) while smugly giving your friends lunches a complete nutritional analysis (have they any idea how many calories are in that burger?)

And on it’ll go, till in a moment of weakness, you have a small piece of chocolate cake. Really, you’ve been so good, what’s one piece? And while you’re at it, you might as well have some fries. But fries and cake do not make a balanced meal. They’re best eaten with protein. Oh, look! Someone’s just grilled hamburgers. Well, now you’ve gone and done it. Blown your diet. Ah, well, there’s always next year. But now to commence with the burger/cake/french fry eating.

Now you see the problem with such resolutions. For some reason, we measure success by our ability to deny ourselves. And, as we usually learn the hard way, we become fixated on the things that are now forbidden. Eventually, you’ll cave, feel like crap and beat yourself up about your supposed ‘failure.’

Here’s my question: Why is it that so many of us choose to start the New Year in some state of denial? Why does not allowing ourselves some pleasure make us somehow ‘better?’ Wouldn’t it be more pleasant to resolve to spend more time in the company of loved ones? In doing activities you enjoy? Or, perhaps most importantly, in being kinder to yourself? We spend so much time apologizing for ourselves, fixing what’s not broken. Maybe instead of vowing to lose those saddlebags, we ought to make a promise to stop scolding ourselves and measure our success in the laughter, the smiles and the memories we make.

By Jen Weiss

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