I hate New Years Resolutions. They always seemed like nonsense to me, which is unfortunate, because the New Year celebration could be a time to reflect on where we have been and where we should go. I get that the resolutions give people a goal to work towards, and goals are nice. The problem I have with it is that it is asking the wrong question, and this is a general problem with upper-class American culture. We ask about ourselves, inwardly seeking to fill the gaping holes within. How can I improve? How can I be perfect? What can I do for me?
I am not against taking care of yourself, or self-improvement. What I have a problem with is the narrow focus within the cult of self-improvement. We are the most educated group of people on earth and the most interesting question and challenge we can come up with is “how do I make myself better?” It is limited, narrow and frankly sells us all short. It shows a lack of maturity and imagination and I suspect it is also the reason so many of my peers are so accomplished and yet so deeply unhappy. We are social creatures, that hole can be filled by love only and you can only receive love when you open yourself to others.
An app that makes my life better is cute, but it isn’t revolutionary. What would be revolutionary would be to create something that makes the world better for humanity. Revolutions are about advancing the human spirit, not about making some individual more comfortable in life. I started hearing the idea when I left home that you cannot love another until you love yourself. This is not a belief I was raised with, in my world, you HAVE to love. Love is a necessary part of being human. That saying is backwards, you cannot love yourself until you have given the world love. Everything else is meaningless. The legacy of your time here will not be defined by how thin, how smart, or how wealthy you are, it will be defined by the little things you did to make the lives of others better. At your funeral, the only people who will be present are those you loved.
We are so much bigger, so much more beautiful, than the measly question of “how do I make myself better?” We are at our best when we act as part of a civilization, not as individuals in a vacuum. Nothing truly beautiful on this earth was built by one human being. Nothing great is built by one person alone. When I think about New Year’s resolutions, I get frustrated because I think of how much better the world would be if we turned our focus outside of ourselves. How different would the world be if we decided to be kind, to love, to work together? This year, I hope you will think about how big, how beautiful and how wonderful you are in representing the human spirit, and that you will resolve to share that with the world.
And most importantly