20 Healthy New Year's Resolutions (that don't include weight loss!)
Compliment at least one person per day
Call my mother more frequently
Rather than reducing my spending, make more money!
Make regular doctor appointments
Donate to an important cause
Say a mantra every day
Become more assertive
No more snooze button
Make my bed every day
Pick a theme for the year
Get more organized to reduce stress
Connect more with others via Social Media
New Year's resolutions go back to ancient, pre-biblical times. Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. In ancient Rome, the month January had special significance. The first month of the new year was named for the god Janus who's two faces, one facing backward (reflecting on the past) and one facing forward (looking ahead into the future). To honor this god, they made promises of good acts for the coming year.
The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), involves praying in synagogue, personal reflection, seeking and/or offering forgiveness, and hearing the shofar (horn).
In the early 18th century, Christians from Moravia (a historical region of the Czech Republic) had a tradition of marking the new year with a vigil to reflect upon the past year and contemplate the one to come. In England, John Wesley adopted this practice for his Methodist congregation; he believed all Christians should affirm their covenant with God annually and called this service the Watch Night Service. In American, the Watch Night Service was given new significance of freedom and hope for change in 1862 when slaves in the Confederate states gathered in churches and private "safe houses" while they waited for the Emancipation Proclamation to go into effect.
Traditional celebration of the Chinese New Year (February 5th this year), is secular; however, their New Year traditions are rooted in myth and fear of bad luck. Important customs for good luck in the New Year include cleaning, putting one's finances in order, beautifying one's self, decorating the house, feasting with family, giving generously, and connecting with loved ones (always bring a gift).
Today, many Americans don't make even make resolutions because they know they're never going to keep them, at least not past January 31st. Maybe it's because we don't fear angering the gods or bringing bad luck to our family that has made it easy for us to "cheat" on our resolutions. Or have we forgotten how hard our ancestors worked to survive that has caused us to take these vows of bettering ourselves and future so lackadaisical? I know I fit in this category, so I put "practice gratitude" at the top of my list; this short history on the tradition of New Year's resolutions definitely put new perspective on my New Year's resolution list this year.