Saturday, December 29, 2007

Daily Resolutions for Early in the Year

The other day, a co-worker asked me if I had made any New Year's resolutions. I reminded him that my New Year occurred already - several months ago, on Rosh Hashanna, the Judaic New Year.

Of course, I can't help making comparisons between the Judaic New Year and the Gregorian New Year. The way two people celebrate the New Year is so drastically different, that, even if I tried to ignore these differences, I couldn't. The Jewish New Year is spent in quiet introspection and prayer. While the holiday is joyous and families gatehr together for festive meals and conversation, a good part of the day is spent in solemn thought. We contemplate our past behaviors and resolve to improve ourselves for the coming year. Our prayers to God recognize Him as the king and ruler over our destiny, and ultimately, every action and decision we take in life is in God's hands. Nonetheless, we still resolve to improve ourselves and pray to God for His assistance.

That, I think, is the major difference with the two New Years. I know people resolve for physical, practical things - losing weight, exercising more, making more money. These are all useful resolutions, mind you. But seriously, if you asked yourself what resolution you made last year, would you really remember?

I know that I recall my resolution that I made on Rosh Hashanna. It's the same resolution I make every year, actually. What's that, you say? Shouldn't a resolution be new and something different? Well, not really. You see, my resolution is actually quite simple to phrase. My resolution is:

Do more of the things I do right and less of the things I do wrong.

The "right" things are the things that make a major difference in the world; a difference to other people. These are the things that help even one person live more easily and more comfortably. It could be a compliment, buying groceries for a disabled person or teaching my children how to do an algbera problem. The wrong things are the things that have no impact at all or, worse, harm someone else.

Why do I remember this resolution? Because I evaluate how I am doing not just once, but at least twice daily - once when I arise - so I can plan my day, and at the end of the day so that I can evaluate my own performance.

A New Year's resolution has meaning if it's something you can evaluate daily, not just infrequently, and certainly not just once / year. When you think about it, it makes sense to make a resolution that helps others. After all, when you help others, you'd be surprised how others can make your resolutions a reality and not just another meaningless promise.

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