New Year's Resolutions
( Originally Published 1916 )
THE New Year is here. It is inventory time. Let us look over the stock of habits, ideas, and relationships we have accumulated the past twelve months and clean up.
The New Year's resolution is a good thing. Why drift along, the slave and plaything of our unmanaged desires and of our accidental circumstances? Why not be our own master and live one year like an intelligent human being?
Examine your habits. Lop off the bad ones. Free yourself from any ways you have fallen into that make you lazy, unhealthy, miserable, and disagreeable to other people.
Determine this year to be master of self ; that you will control your thoughts, regulate your passions, and guide your own deeds; that you will not let events lead you by the nose.
Resolve to be happy. Remember Lincoln's saying that "folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
This year you shall not neglect your friends. They are too valuable, as life assets, to lose.
You will adopt some system and stick to it, knowing that nine-tenths of our irritation comes from lack of system.
Lay out a course of study. No one is too old to learn. Resolve to give some time each day to reading some helpful book. Cut out the trash.
Resolve to keep an account of all the money you get and of all you spend. You may have tried this many times and failed. Never mind; you are still alive and have the chance to try it again.
Save. Put a certain fraction by of all you make. There's no friend like money in the bank.
Don't spend any money till you get it. Don't go into debt. Beware of buying all those things you "must have," for you mustn't have anything until you can pay for it.
No alcohol this year. Let your body rest 365 days from this poison and see how you feel. Don't get into a moral fever over this. Don't "try" not to drink. Just don't drink.
Resolve to take that daily exercise.
Eliminate worry. This year make up your mind to fret over nothing. Adjust yourself to facts instead of getting into a stew over them. If a matter can be helped, help it; if it cannot be-helped, forget it.
This year resolve to keep discord out of the house. Nobody can quarrel with you if you do not quarrel with him. Say to yourself that you will not once in 1916 speak crossly to your children; that you will not say one unkind word to your husband or wife, and that you will keep agreeable if it takes a leg.
This may be the last year you will have. Make it a good one.
You know how you ought to live. At least, you think you do. And if you do as well as your own judgment tells you, it will be an advance.
This is old-fashioned advice. But happiness is old-fashioned, and life. There is no new-fangled way to be content.
And learn this of wise Marcus Aurelius:
"To change thy mind and follow him that sets thee right is to be none the less the free agent that thou wast before."
Also : "The happiness and unhappiness of the rational social animal depends not on what he feels but on what he does; just as virtue and vice consist not in feeling but in doing."