By Robin Cade
Created over 4,000 years ago, the act of creating and – trying – to stick by new year resolutions has been a custom in starting a fresh page. New Years resolutions came into existence for Christians in 1740 when English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service. This was normally held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Scriptures would be read and hymns sung, while plans for making a difference in the new year were outlined and prayed for. Years later, New Year Resolutions have become part of wider society, a practice used by those religious and non-religious. The problem that most of the population faces in modern times is the strength to see resolutions through to the end. In fact, during the analysis of 800 million activities, it was found that most new year’s resolutions tend to be abandoned by only 19 days! So how can you yourself make a positive difference for 365 days, not just 19?
The answer seems to lie in small repeatable actions. When Tesco said ‘Every Little Helps’, they may have also been referring to introducing new habits – as it is the magic spell in sticking to your resolutions! Small consistent actions make a huge impact. For example, just think about if every single individual picked up one piece of litter, how little rubbish there would be lying around. Researching the topic of practice, James Clear created a self help book ‘Atomic Habits’ which outlined that every time we go through a habit, we complete a four-step process: Cue, Craving, Response and Reward. Ideally, if we want to form new habits, we have to make the tasks that we set ourselves obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying, so that we feed the process to keep the wagon moving. Habit trackers are a great way to measure your progress to make the work you do satisfying, ensuring you see the bigger picture and carry on through.
Resolutions do not have to be picking up hobbies or doing something good only for yourself. Consider sticking to a resolution that gives back to your community. Author Robin Cade spent many years researching the beauty of an interesting concept called ‘The Golden Rule’, which describes the historic unification of a common principle used worldwide by communities and tribes to enable them to live together, caring and sharing. The principle helped them cope with problems and increase their happiness – their quality of life. As life still is for people guided by the principle. This is why it should potentially form the basis of your New Year Resolutions. In basic terms, The Golden Rule is treating others how you wish to be treated yourself, and this can take the form of a small and simple act.
Like James Clear covered, small acts (or habits) consistently and mindfully achieved add together to create a larger change or shift. It’s the same with The Golden Rule. Simply smiling at a stranger on the street is enough. Don’t you find it odd how we all say everyone seems less friendly nowadays? Knowing full well that when we walk out on the street, we are all staring at our feet or phones? Small acts of kindness, such as complimenting the chef at a restaurant or tipping the waitress a little extra, can make someone’s day. You never know what demons a person is dealing with, and a simple tip or compliment could make their week. Besides, if they pass on the kindness, it could always find its way back to you. By treating others the way you wish to be treated, you can end up making the world a kinder environment. This goes for the ecosystem too. With the planet in critical condition, we need to do all we can to curb climate change. By simply picking up a piece of rubbish on your way to work, or choosing a quick shower over a bath one evening, you are taking small steps to a more sustainable future, which could mean so much more in the long run if we all clubbed together.
The world is a large and sometimes confusing place, and treating people with the kind of respect and love that you would want to receive can make a huge impact. If we all do our best to make the world a more caring environment, then we will eventually receive the treatment we would want ourselves. So – what are you waiting for? Start planning those Resolutions.