To Your Good (Mental) Health: One Hundred Resolutions for the New Year

Just a few random thoughts on what you might choose to resolve (begin, stop, or continue) in 2012:


  • raise your hand
  • take a chance
  • diversify both your economic and emotional life: resist putting all your eggs in one basket, financial or human
  • learn to say “no”
  • there will always be someone better, someone smarter, and someone better looking; get used to it
  • exercise
  • don’t text or tweet the day away
  • give up on TV news soundbites and actually read something in-depth on the state of the world from a relatively unbiased source
  • look in the mirror at what is underneath the surface
  • make friends


  • when upset, imagine how you will feel in a week, a month, or a year; in other words, know that most turmoil is passing
  • don’t be a doormat
  • deal with your childhood
  • be honest, not just when it is convenient
  • work hard (don’t learn the tricks of the trade before you learn the trade)
  • sometimes the rain won’t stop, so discover how to dance in the rain
  • be grateful and express it
  • learn to apologize without excuses
  • pay it forward
  • pay it back


  • before sending an angry email, write down 40 ways your missive can be misunderstood or ruin your life; then wait some more before sending
  • find some hobbies
  • eat right
  • beware of hopelessness, but do not became a slave to hope’s capacity for illusion
  • avoid too much self distraction
  • remind yourself that there is no such thing as “must-see TV”
  • don’t abuse substances
  • laugh
  • you have a shadow; best that you get to know it since you most certainly can’t outrun it
  • stand for yourself, but also for something bigger


  • have humility
  • be careful about judging
  • have new experiences and learn from them
  • don’t wait until your feelings change to act (act and your feelings are likely to change)
  • recognize that luck plays a part in life
  • be flexible — don’t inflexibly resist change
  • grieve when necessary, lest things build up
  • make eye contact
  • if you are anxious, learn to be less concerned about others’ opinions
  • realize that money isn’t everything and that the American Dream is a fraud


  • know that your kids aren’t all the same and that each one needs something different from you
  • sample things — try them before you say you have no interest in them
  • don’t wait for your savior, save yourself
  • choose your battles, but don’t permanently lay down your arms
  • treat your body as if you might just need it for a while
  • recognize that you are not as important as you think (unless you are the President, a brain surgeon, or the second coming of  Shakespeare)
  • spend less time worrying and accept that most bad things are survivable
  • be an informed citizen, learn about history and vote
  • make haste slowly
  • don’t accept easy answers


  • embrace the opportunity to perform
  • every committee has work horses and show horses; choose the first role lest you look like an ass
  • stay out-of-the-way of people who are bulldozers; it’s only a matter of time before they run you over
  • get out of the city into nature and be dazzled
  • spend time with a few members of a different faith, color, religious group, or political party and get a new perspective
  • As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do”
  • do your best to ignore Ashton, Britney, “The Donald,” Kim, Lindsay, Snooki, and “The Real Housewives;” emptier lives are not to be found unless it is among their fans
  • keep your cell phone off the dinner table and make public cell phone conversations as private and rare as possible
  • don’t text while driving — ever
  • remind yourself every day that (with luck) you are going to get old, wrinkled, and die


  • practice, practice, practice
  • remember that this is not the rehearsal, this is the performance
  • don’t be self-righteous
  • get some rest
  • consider whether those guys carrying signs that say “Repent, the end is near!” might be on to something
  • ask yourself “What would Jesus do?” before you foreclose on someone’s house or stiff your waiter
  • realize that being confused might be an opportunity to learn
  • ask questions
  • when you say you are going to do something, do it
  • keep secrets when asked to do so


  • don’t be a gossip
  • recognize that a life of logic (without a counterbalance of feeling) is the equivalent of becoming a mathematical formula or a computer
  • learn to be direct
  • don’t have sex while chewing gum; and, for sure, don’t make it as unremarkable as chewing gum
  • do one thing at a time, with all your attention
  • don’t talk over others; listen when spoken to; be polite
  • get over yourself
  • trust, but verify
  • find the poetry in the prosaic and the cool in the quotidian
  • earn your life


  • have a good time
  • meditate
  • live with intensity
  • be kind
  • surrender to intimacy
  • make your life matter
  • live by the “golden rule”
  • study all your life
  • be an enemy of routine
  • love someone or something


  • make new mistakes
  • test yourself
  • swing for the fences; shoot for something big
  • try to figure out where you are headed; it’s harder to get there unless you know
  • learn to tell a joke
  • take time to smell the roses
  • keep a lid on the number of complaints you utter and the number of excuses you make
  • get off the cross, we need the wood
  • whether you are a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond, be sure you learn to swim
  • and, to quote Studs Terkel: “Take it easy, but take it”

The above photo of a New Year Streamer is sourced from Wikimedia Commons.