The Psychology of New Year’s Resolutions

3189669995_a64f50e6b2-300x209Staring at the cursor blinking patiently on this computer screen, it is easy to remember the power a blank page can hold. Before this document is littered with run-on sentences, errant apostrophes, and tired cliches,  it can be imagined transformed into a perfectly crafted piece of writing. It allows us to believe again, for a few fleeting moments, in perfection.

The new year holds the same kind of power. It allows us to look at our lives anew, untainted. We vow change. We allow ourselves hope. We fall under the spell of the new beginning, seduced by its endless potential. It holds us in a state of fragile and temporary conviction.

Like a street blanketed in snow, the new year covers our problems. We are purified. It gives us respite from our cynicism, and for a time, we can see our world transformed. But inevitably the plows rumble through the frozen streets, leaving sheets of ice and brown slush where perfection once was. We come back to our cold, flawed, disappointing existence. Now it’s just plain old January with a long winter ahead and the same tired problems in sight.

So, this January we have decided to spend the month contemplating new beginnings–over and over again. We will explore their deceptive promises and their intriguing and magical qualities. Here at the Center we believe to “err is human” and to err over and over again is even humaner (cue the sounds of our dreams for this “perfect” piece crashing down.)

We don’t mean to completely bash new year’s resolutions. To make a resolution at the start of a new year, is to make a wish. It means allowing ourselves to hope, and this world could use a lot more of that. But we should all try to remember that January 1st is not the cut off for starting fresh. We can begin again any time we want, as many times as we want. That is one of the greatest things about being alive, our own unending potential for change.