Resolutions you can sink your teeth into

The word resolution has many meanings, including contradictory ones concerning endings and beginnings. With a new year breathing down our necks, it’s the latter that’s on my mind.

New Year’s resolutions are often the subject of scorn or ridicule, and probably rightly so. Many of us make the same promises to ourselves year after year—we’re going to lose weight or quit smoking or stop drinking— promises that become more hollow and absurd with each annual iteration.

Resolutions of this heft are setups for failure. Failure leads to moodiness, sleeplessness, friendlessness and despair. Ultimately, people who make such grand pledges often lose their livelihoods and their loved ones, and end up shuffling dissolutely down the sidewalk mumbling to themselves and staring dull-eyed straight through passersby. It’s not a pretty picture.

It’s probably clear by now that I recommend against what I’ll call Profound Resolutions, and I think the paragraph above offers compelling support of this position. So what to do on New Year’s Day?

Do we simply go capriciously about our business as though we had no interest in bettering our lives? Of course not. Although some of us have to search hard, there’s room for improvement in all of our britches. The secret is to make your resolutions reasonable and viable. Simply put, don’t bite off more than you can chew.

I have followed this protocol for decades, and I am a happy fellow who is made happier by my small successes. What follows is my list of resolutions for 2014, all completely doable and none so ponderous as to be rendered impossible. Here goes:

I hereby resolve

•  to stop yelling at bad drivers. Unless I’m really screaming, the only people who hear me are the ones in my car.

•  to stop buying jeroboam- sized canisters of mayonnaise and pallets of Nutella at warehouse stores.

•  to keep picking up nickels I see on the street.

•  to start picking up pennies I see on the street.

• to try to stop, finally, being ticked off at Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley for creating the “countrypolitan sound” and almost ruining country music.

•  to try to limit my online playing of Word Hero to seven hours a day.

•  to stop being irritated by the fact that 16 of the 24 minutes of The Colbert Report are taken up by people screaming at him in adulation. (I understand that it goes with his onscreen persona, but it got old for yours truly after about three days.)

•  to think about my birth family—my mother, my father and my brother, all dead—at least once a day.

•  to accept the fact that politicians have to lie to get—and keep—their jobs, instead of taking it personally every time someone I voted for tells a whopper.

•  to try not to be a winter weather weenie. After all, I did move here voluntarily from Oklahoma.

•  next time I am offered a performing tour of Australia.

•  to lift my foot a little higher on the seventh step of our stairs so I don’t trip every time I climb them.

•  to forgive those who need forgiving.

•  not to laugh when I see people talking real loud on their cellphones in public.

•  not to respond to a point that someone makes by saying, “Exactly.”

•  to count my blessings before they hatch, grow up and move away.

•  not to be so irritated by upspeak that I don’t pay attention to what’s being said.

See what I mean? These are resolutions a guy can sink his teeth into, and I will prevail on at least some of them. And, heck, if I do end up walking out of Costco on Jan. 23 with a 40-pack of suet cakes, or if I wind up wearing noise-canceling headphones through most of The Colbert Report on Feb. 12, well, who cares? It’s not like I promised myself I’d lose 100 pounds.

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