Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 29, 2012

VASICEK: Approaching New Year and its many resolutions

Quest for personal improvement is a good one

By Ed Vasicek
Tribune columnist

— Millions of Americans are making New Year’s resolutions. Many of them revolve around overcoming our personal weaknesses. It is easy to condemn others who struggle with a weakness we do not share, yet we expect others to sympathize with our weaknesses. What comes easy to one person can be difficult for another.

Pittsburghabout.com lists the 10 most popular resolutions, and I will add my own commentary in their midst.

1.  More time with family and friends.

It is heartening that people want to spend more time with family and friends. Like most resolutions, the problem is typically displacement. If our lives are out-of-balance (working long hours, too much time in front of the TV or online, etc.), it becomes nearly impossible to find time or energy to make this happen.

2. Fitness.

Exercise is good for one’s health. My opinion is that it is better to walk regularly than work out aggressively and then stop working out. Better yet is to work out and stay with it, of course. Only you know what is realistic for you.

3. Tame the bulge.

For me, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is too much. But – just like exercise – it is better to take off 10 or 20 pounds and keep it off than it is to take off 40 and put on 45.

4. Quit smoking.

Overcoming the smoking habit is challenging, but worth the effort. Between patches and support groups, smokers have more help in breaking this highly addictive habit. They even market “lettuce cigarettes” that help transition smokers into non-smokers. Be encouraged by the fact that many do succeed in kicking the habit.

5. Enjoy life more.

To enjoy life, we need to cultivate a variety of interests, socialize with people, and schedule events or outings. Sometimes we just need to slow down and smell the roses. I know a few folks who have to justify everything they do as productive in some way. It’s hard to enjoy life if you are suspicious about enjoyment in the first place.

6. Quit drinking.

Many people drink in moderation, yet many cannot. Life without beer or whiskey may seem like a fate worse than death. Mere resolution is not enough; most people find that support groups help.

7. Get out of debt.

Getting out of debt is a noble goal; many Americans get out of debt and stay out of debt, but it takes a plan, not mere resolution. For some people, buying can be an addictive drug that lifts them out of depression.

8. Learn something new.

People who make this resolution may have no significant problem with the above, and should be congratulated! Learning something new, however, does tie in conceptually with enjoying life more. I read somewhere that the ancients used to consider learning a form of recreation and leisure. Maybe they were right.

9. Help others.

This resolution also connects to “enjoying life more.” Studies have demonstrated that people who help others make themselves happier in the process. While most people-helpers have religious or altruistic motivations, they find it invigorating.

10. Get organized.

I lost what I was going to say about this one! Only kidding. I am amazed at how some people are naturally into organization and find it a pleasure; I am not one of them. What does help me somewhat, however, is the realization that taking time to organize saves greater amounts of time later. Organization is truly an investment.

According to dailymail.co.uk, “We spend ten minutes every day rummaging for lost items, from books and phones to car keys and even the cars themselves, a survey has found.”

If we have 16 “awake” hours a day, we lose over three days a year looking for things. In 70 years we might lose between seven and eight months of our lives looking for misplaced items (for me, it is my glasses).

Whether you make resolutions or not, the quest to improve is a good quest. My fictional friends Elmer and Emil, along with me, wish all our readers a Happy New Year!

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@att.net.