This year I opted not to write any New Year’s Resolutions. I made this decision after discovering, only a week before the 1st, a number of interesting paradoxes. The consequential two I will explain in outline below.
- The paradox of hedonism: if you seek happiness, you will lose it. Happiness is like a fish which, when grasped, will slip quickly out of from your hands. It is known only in brief moments of inattention, when you leave it alone to do its work.
- The willpower paradox: willing something to happen is the easiest way to ensure it will not. As with the paradox above, focused attention results in a lower probability of you attaining that which you desire.
One article claims that the best alternative to willpower is doubt. The mind that routinely questions what is possible will likely chance on whatever actually is possible, and, moreover, on whatever has the highest possibility of occurring. If this process of doubt is repeated throughout the course of a year; if one’s resolutions are constantly reevaluated for economy and validity; then it is arguable from intuition alone that the result of an inquiry of doubt will lead to a committal to goals that are more beneficial and efficacious than they would otherwise be–considering the evidence and deciding on what is best for you, one can hope literally to improve day by day. This situation is preferable to one of a static goal which may be rendered irrelevant by new circumstances or information about the reasonableness of the goal.
The freedom to explore, to remain free from the yoke of an imperious, unyielding command, also creates less stress in daily life. There is no overbearing fear of failure to haunt your every move, no fearsome monolith apt to crush you if it topples. And when the inevitable does arrive–when you, fatigued by doubt, do break your punctilious conviction–then the loathing that accompanies failure will not be so severe. You are free to start tomorrow. You are encouraged to begin again. What breaks is weak; the race is never won only if the fallen never rise.
With these and other thoughts in mind (thoughts which, for brevity’s sake, I will leave here unwritten) I refrained from making any New Year’s Resolutions. Two weeks later, however, I have decided that to make no resolutions whatsoever is an error insoluble to rationalization.
I should really make a conviction now and modify it as time moves on. That way I have something concrete to think about, to modify, to perfect. Now, then, I shall compose a brief list of resolutions. Some will be theoretical or recreational. Most will be practical. I am an impracticable fellow, heady, forgetful, apathetic–these are not virtuous personality traits and I must try to correct them. So correct them I shall. Here goes:
- Partition your day into 25- and 5-minutes’ long portions to increase productivity and to reduce fruitless descents into states of unawareness.
- Exercise for 15 minutes every day. Alternate exercise type, with one day devoted to running and another to weight training.
- Practice awareness meditation for 15 minutes every morning.
- When you enter a room, any room, clean up one area or move one item into its proper position. Do this every time you enter a room.
- Write no less than 500 words every day. Aim to make each piece of writing concise enough to be posted online.
- Read a book for 25 minutes every day.
What you read above are my life resolutions as they now exist. Books, writing, cleaning, exercise, meditation. As they evolve, I do not want them to number more than five. Here’s less to happy living than to a meaningful life.