“I was going to buy a copy of ‘The Power of Positive Thinking,’ and then I thought: What the hell good would that do?”–Ronnie Shakes

For some of us, indeed, for many more of us than can easily afford to acknowledge it without further loss of equanimity at least and happiness at most, this is a very sad time of year.   In fact, it’s no time of year at all, it’s the end of the year, and the New Year, with all its happiness derived in part from alcoholic bubbles and party snacks hasn’t started yet (or at least, it’s a few hours off in some parts of the globe, only a few hours old and hence not really fully underway in other parts of the globe).  So what do we do?  We rush out, buy the aforesaid snacks and alcohol, and then sit around waiting for time to start our eager consumption of what is supposed to signal a celebration of ringing out the old and ringing in the new.  We may even think of a New Year’s resolution or two, but then we tell ourselves that after all, that’s for the first of the year (tomorrow) and shouldn’t cloud our enjoyment of the last day of this year, when we hope to really “tie one on” and watch the bright lights go up around our neighborhoods, or watch a good movie and have a good cry, or go to the local neighborhood party and wear a funny hat and embrace people under the mistletoe for the last time this season.

And we ask ourselves, “What would really make me happy this year?  What would I like to achieve, or have, or have happen to me?”  It’s not in fact that we can’t think of things, for we of course can.  It’s rather that the things we think of are far too often not commensurable with the same sorts of things that can be achieved or had or experienced if we make a “realistic” New Year’s resolution.  For we all know what those things are.  I can work a little harder each day, or I can vow to lose 30 pounds by the end of the year, or I can save up a few extra dollars in order to get something I really want, but for which I will have to deprive myself of other things I need or want.  In short, everything we can realistically get takes a lot of effort, a constant push or pull or force exerted on our own moral inertia to accomplish.  So, often we decide, “Why should I?  I’ll worry about it tomorrow.  I’ll start on it two days from now.  Next week, when I’ve cleaned up the mess from this party I’m supposed to be having, will be time enough to begin.”  And in short, we put it off and sooner or later it simply slips to the back of the mental cupboard with all of the other things we once hoped to do and have and be.  Aren’t we a real mess?

Do I have an answer for this dilemma?  No, I do not, but I can tell you that I for one would rather “dream dreams” and “have visions” than place myself mentally in that “realistic” framework which we assume when we set about to do things “for real.”  I would rather not set goals, but would like to huggle-muggle willy-nilly toward what I want, one day sighing and one day crying, and another day laughing for joy because it seems that the sun is shining on my aspiration.  That way, when I reach next New Year’s Eve and I have only a bit of success to show, or a pittance of my desired amount saved up, or have only taken off ten pounds, I will know that I did it easily rather than arduously, and thus I participated in the glee of childhood we all once used to have, when we were unaware of how hard adults often had to strive to gain for us our “power of positive thinking” and to keep us happy and healthy.  Yes, I’m saying that I want something to happen easily and without effort, that I’m tired of the “no pain, no gain” morality, that at the very least I want to be self-deceived about something that will make me happy rather than deluded about something that makes me sad in the end.  Play along with me, won’t you?  Be giddy and happy all you like this New Year’s Eve, but don’t come down hard on yourself on January 1 or 2 or even 3 and tell yourself that it’s time to get “back to reality.”  Reality as we know it is hard enough:  let’s live in the happiness bubble for as long as possible this year, at least when it comes to achievements and goals and our own personal gifts of living happily.  Who knows, maybe those “dreams” and “visions” are a little closer than we know!  Happy New Year!

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15 Comments

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15 responses to ““I was going to buy a copy of ‘The Power of Positive Thinking,’ and then I thought: What the hell good would that do?”–Ronnie Shakes

  1. A very nice idea =)

    If you have your goals, chase them because you want to, not because you are pressuring yourself into it. The enjoyment of achievement is sometimes offset by the amount of self-deprivation that goes towards reaching it.

    Work to live, not live to work =)

  2. I absolutely LOVE your post! I never make resolutions. I delight in looking at the world through child-colored glasses, as much as I can, though the world shoves horrors at us daily. I acknowledge the flowers, the trees, the shape of a fallen leaf. I observe as much as I can. No-one can take away my thoughts!
    What have I accomplished this year? I got a job! That’s huge! What am I doing for New Year’s Eve? Happily typing thoughts to other people! What am I doing in 2013? I don’t know yet, but I hope its fun!
    Thanks for putting a smile on my face! Good wishes to you for 2013.

    • Ah, so someone was before me with this idea! I’m glad that we share the same frame of reference–it’s nice to know that my odd perspective is something that perhaps isn’t so odd after all, but that other people agree with me. Now we must make a stand against all those who are going to ask, in a spirit of fun, but still determinedly, “So what’s YOUR New Year’s resolution?” I suppose I can answer, “Never to answer that question again,” but then they may suspect me of being a Grinch, which is the reverse of the claim I’m making! Congratulations on the job, I hope you really enjoy it, and thanks for commenting.

  3. Great post. I often struggle between planting the roses, and stopping to smell them. You have inspired me to look again through the eyes of my childliness (new word) and laugh and enjoy and love even more and to live (at least some part of the day) in the “happiness bubble”. Thank you. I will tweet and FB your inspiring post.

    • Hey, Kathy! I really do wish I had thought of your choice between “planting the roses and stopping to smell them” when I was writing! What a nice way to put it. Thanks also for the FB and tweet–I’m coming back slowly from a “Slough of Despond,” to quote from literature, and I’m eager to correspond with people who might have something to say. I followed your holiday tips straight through, even when I had my computer at my brother’s house for the Christmas holiday, and found them very sound. All the best in the New Year, and keep those bulletins about not so much the one “right way” to do things but the “tender loving and copacetic way” to do things coming. They really do come in handy.

      • Thank you! That is so nice to hear and I am so glad. That’s why we write. And BTW, we all need a few applauds now and then to remind us that people are listening!

    • Kathy: I also tweeted, fb’d and reposted on my blog! Its just too good not to share, isn’t it?

  4. Your headline made me laugh, kind of like Geoff Dyer’s book I’ve been meaning to read for some time: “Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It.” Ha. Anyway, I agree, be gentle with oneself. Baby steps toward one’s goal. Or as they say somewhere in Africa, I’m told, “Softly, softly catchee monkey.”

    • “Softly, softly catchee monkey.” That’s cute! I’m going to have to remember that one. What’s not to love about monkeys? Oh, well.. I suppose if you’re in the Monkey Forest in Ubud on the island of Bali and you’re carrying any food, you might not like them then.

    • That’s my kind of yoga exactly! I used to do yoga, I think I spent several years doing it alone now and then on a fairly regular basis, until I just gave up, because all that calm and quiet was making me nervous! Thanks for the title, and also for the African saying. These days, I’m looking for all the “softly, softly” I can get!

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