My New Year’s Resolutions

At the start of each new year for the last twenty to twenty-five years, I have made the same two resolutions: to be on time and to lose weight.

Since I am almost never on time and since I keep gaining weight, I think that one of the following conclusions can be drawn from this repetitive cycle: (1) I have no willpower or persistence whatsoever; (2) I need to practice some reverse psychology on myself; or (3) I am purposely failing to make good on these resolutions because, if not for these two major personal failings, I am afraid that I might be “too perfect.”

Actually, about five years ago, I added a third resolution—to try to be at least a little nicer.

I have had no more success in making good on that resolution than on the other two.

Several weeks ago, I came across an article by Sonia Krishnan titled “Marchex Data Reveals Ohioans Curse the Most in the Country.” Marchex surveyed 600,000 telephone conversations made by costumers to businesses in 30 economic sectors from cable and satellite television providers to automobile dealerships to pest-control centers. They discovered that Ohioans cursed, on average, once in every 150 conversations. In contrast, residents of Washington State were the least prone to profanity, cursing once in every 300 conversations.

I shared this article with the members of our chapter Executive Committee, with the disclaimer that I do not believe that I had made enough telephone calls over the past year to have skewed the results.

The survey also focused on the frequency with which “please” and “thank you” were used. By this second measure, Ohio ranked as the fifth “least courteous” state, and therefore, our state has the distinction of being the only state to rank in the bottom five on both lists.

Having had some additional time to mull over the implications of this study, I have come to the conclusion that the fault might not lie with me at all but, instead, with Ohio. Over the nearly quarter-century in which I have lived in the state, I think that I may have simply been so hypersensitive to all of the profanity that surrounds me—that apparently permeates all aspects of my daily life—that I have become much more prone to being profane than I would have been if I had remained, instead, in Pennsylvania (where the residents of the old mining towns are noted for the delicacy of their speech)—or if I had perhaps found employment in Washington.

I, therefore, resolve to find similar studies related to chronic lateness and persistent fatness so that if much of the fault lies in my general environs, I can get the year off to an emotionally lighter start by adjusting my expectations of myself accordingly.

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