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New Year’s Resolutions

Since early September 2018, I have been remiss about writing my blogs. A death in my wife’s extended family caused a tremendous ripple effect in our lives. It seems as if the living is hesitant to prepare for death in unimaginable ways. During childhood, Sunday school teachers seared into my brain that there were seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. I will add the eighth one to the list: the act of leaving untidy earthly matters after death to family members who must act in accord with pieces of projected preconceived wishes of the deceased that were left untold. I digress.

It seems as if New Year’s resolutions form at the end of the Christmas holidays. Many times, the hustle and bustle of the season creates drama that goes beyond the imaginations of the best writers for television sitcoms. In the throes of seasonal hurricanes fashioned by old and new demons of Christmases past, all of us try to find a crumb of joy to ingest to warm our hearts. Even if Christmas is not your thing, the shock waves of those who celebrate it vigorously will knock you over or alter your life forever. We are feeling machines that think, not thinking machines that feel. Our feelings matter. One cannot go through the Christmas holidays without having their feelings hurt profoundly at least once or twice by people they love.

I listen all day every day to the stories of patients who divulge their life challenges as we sift through the fallen timber in their private forests demolished by emotional and spiritual storms. The holidays bring out the worst behaviors in their family and friends. Most times, New Year’s resolutions are born out of emotional wreckage of the holidays. The pain of disappointment in our selves or others give fertile ground for impulsively changing our lives for at least a week or two. As we look in the mirror and recognize who we are as opposed to who we think we are, we realize our souls are unfed, our bodies are degenerating, our relationships are unattended to, and our spirits are dimmed. Reality strikes a harsh wallop to our egos as we review the unkind events of the immediate past year. The blow is accentuated when we compare it to other callous years. Each time we envision a new, more fulfilling life in the quiet of the chaos and emotional agony, we unconsciously gravitate to the obstacles that stand before us. Some are a simple little bump, easy to jump over, while others are as tall as the highest mountain, near impossible to scale without altering everything that ties us to our worlds. The idea that we would free float to save ourselves from drowning in a sea of unrealized dreams brings terror to our minds. We fall back on an old construct that has many iterations; my life isn’t that bad because it could be worse.

Humans are animals that close to novelty early in their lives. Once they have reached a point of maturity in their mid-twenties to early thirties, they tend to be resistant to any significant changes for the rest of their lives — some people close to novelty earlier in their maturation, maybe as early as sixteen or eighteen-years-old. Humans are stubborn animals who will not alter their life course until they are standing face to face with a giant ice wall, unable to climb over the obstacle or go any further on the present road. There can be no side door, or they will take it since it is the path of least resistance. Change is hard for all of us; it only occurs when calamity extinguishes all other options.

Type Two Diabetes Mellitus represents a simple concrete example of our inability to change. People with type two diabetes can easily control their disease (elevated blood sugars) by altering their diets and avoiding simple and complex carbohydrates. Sugar in any form to people with diabetes is poison, no different than arsenic or lead. I am unaware of anyone who voluntarily ingests heavy metals since they are profoundly disturbing to our health. However, it is almost impossible for people with diabetes to carve sugar and complex carbohydrates out of their diets. Protein and fats are essential to our diets since we cannot manufacture them from carbs, but humans can make glucose from protein; glucose is the only fuel for our brain. Fat is a better fuel for non-brain cells since it provides nine calories per gram. Monosaccharide sugars provide four calories per gram.

Effective New Year’s resolutions should be simple, not a firm life-altering commitment. It is much easier to stick to a small significant change than to stay with a massive overhaul of one’s life. If a person is exercise adverse, it makes no sense for that person to resolve to exercise every day for thirty minutes or more. It is even more absurd for them to join a CrossFit gym. The same holds for those who are addicted to one vice or another. Making resolutions to change behavior must be accompanied with the discipline to make the change. Fatigue and emotional unrest profoundly erode control. Declarations made in a house unsettled is like trying to plant flowers in a hurricane.

The Christmas holidays bring out the best in people and the worst in people all at the same time. The rollercoaster of emotions can be exhausting, sometimes impossible to ride without derailing a time or two. An environment of peace and emotional steadiness makes for the best decisions for the New Year; perhaps after the Chinese New Year which happens to be on the fifth of February this year. Most importantly, resolutions that are in accord with our true authentic self are easiest to maintain. It’s much easier to correct behavior when one adjusts to their authenticity. Introverts find more ways to energize and heal in solitude: find time for yourselves. Extroverts find more ways to get involved in meaningful relationships: find time for others. Any change that feeds one’s authentic self will be easier to sustain than changing to appease others.

If you make a New Year’s Resolution, I wish you luck in continuing your path to better health and happiness. Take a moment to find genuineness and be open to novelty. Take the first step towards your new adventure. Remember it is not how fast you start on the journey to be the best you, it is how strong you finish. Finish Strong!


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