Every new year, Dear Abby prints a column called “Just for Today.” Pictured with her at a dinner I hosted in San Francisco.
It’s that time of year: December. Too many parties and libations, which means January will come as a welcome relief and a chance to start again. Although most of us try to make changes in our lives at the beginning of each year, it seems that many of us fail at improving our lives.
History of Resolutions
According to the History Channel, the ancient Babylonians were the first people to make New Year’s resolutions some four thousand years ago. During a twelve-day religious festival, they either reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king or crowned a new king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises were the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. A few centuries later, for the early Christians, the first day of the New Year became the traditional occasion for thinking about past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future.
The seventeen-century theologian John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) created a renewal service, held on New Year’s Day. His inspirational quote remains one of my all-time favorites: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” I can’t think of a better resolution to make at the beginning of each year, because it’s about how we treat other people, not just about ourselves.
It’s been said that the best resolutions are realistic ones that we have a good chance of keeping. This year, in place of resolutions that are unattainable, try these easy-to-follow ones. Print out the following page, add your name, and keep it in a place where you will see it. You’ll be surprised how keeping these resolutions will improve your life for the better.
My New Year’s Resolutions for 2020
Today, January 1, 2020, I, , resolve to improve my life for the better with these 10 resolutions:
1. Be Courteous. Say please and thank you to everyone you interact with throughout the day.
2. Be Punctual. Being on time lets other people know you think their time is just as important as yours.
3. Be Humble. Don’t be a know-it-all or correct other people’s grammar, and listen to what they have to say.
4. Be Kind. Lady Gaga said “Kindness is showing love to someone else.” Be kind so you don’t have to rewind. Do a favor for someone without expecting payback.
5. Be Involved. In conversation with others, follow the two-question rule: Ask the other person a question about themselves, then follow up their answer with another question. It’s not all about you.
6. Be Generous. We get when we give. Adopt a charity to support with either your time or money, or both.
7. Be Courteous. Send thank-you notes, don’t interrupt others in conversation, and don’t be an aggressive driver.
8. Be Forgiving. Everyone is both naughty and nice; we all have flaws. Stop the anger and resentment. Forgiveness is all.
9. Be Considerate. Go out of your way to help a neighbor who needs support. Give up your seat on the bus for pregnant women, mothers with children, the elderly, and the disabled.
10. Be Strategic. If you have children, teach them that bullying is never okay, either at school or on the internet.
Each year, the Dear Abby column posts a list of New Year’s resolutions. Here’s the first one, which is not just for one day, but for every day of the year to come.
Just for today, I will live through this day only. I will not brood about yesterday or obsess about tomorrow. I will not set far-reaching goals or try to overcome all of my problems at once.
I know that I can do something for 24 hours that would overwhelm me if I had to keep it up for a lifetime.