New year, new you. New attitude, new habits. What a load of bunkum. Please do not misunderstand: I am all for self-improvements and goal-setting, particularly if the target is better health and greater happiness. But sustainable changes are arrived at one moment and a movement at a time – not as a mob on a mandated date.
The ‘new year’, itself, is an arbitrary creation. Many people on the planet follow the Gregorian calendar, as we do. But many others base the new year on the lunar cycle or the sun, and their ‘new year’ is on an entirely different date.
History shows that until 700 BC-ish, the Roman calendar had 10 months, and March 1 was New Year’s Day.
Even when January and February were added, March 1 started a new year for another 550 of them.
Oddly, our new year starts by blowing up the old one with fireworks, as if everything in the past 365 days was horrid. But a bad day or week or a rough patch doesn’t mean the whole year was rubbish.
In our part of the world, New Year’s Day falls at a time of great decadence, of feasting and holidays in the languid summer air and amid the slowdown of the festive period. So, overall, it is not a great template on which to start a pattern of restraint and change.
Right about now, even so soon after that magic January midnight, people are not feeling so resolute. Studies show the shine of a fresh promise to change goes off within days and a lucky few are left forging on and focused, come February.
The big three resolutions are always health-related: start exercising regularly, lose weight, eat healthier. The components of these each involve personal choices and feel possible – and they are. But in this first week of 2024, remember that just because you missed a day of walking or had dessert last night when you vowed to have none this year doesn’t mean it is all over. Don’t give up.
A Japanese proverb translates to: “Fall down seven times, stand up eight”. So it should be with New Year’s resolutions.
The dawning of each day is the start of something new. We don’t need a calendar to tell us that every time we open our eyes in the morning, renewal is afoot.