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It’s that time again. We are going to start the New Year with a resolution in order to improve ourselves. By golly, this time we will get it right and we will become a better person for our efforts. Or will we?
This time of year there is a profusion of articles in papers, magazines and on the internet concerning this subject. There are articles on every aspect of New Year’s resolutions to be found and the so-called experts tell us what to do and how to do them.
Some will remind us about the statistics that tell us how few people actually keep their resolutions. So few that a lot of people don’t even attempt a resolution as they know themselves, and know that they would fail at it.
Self-improvement is the theme of New Year’s resolutions and I think we would all agree that it is a noble idea. But why are resolutions so important to humanity as a whole? Resolutions are an idea that helps to define who we are as human beings.
What separates us from other creatures on the planet is not our ability for language or our abilities to learn new tricks. It is our capability to be able to rise above our instinctual reactions in order to make better decisions that will produce better outcomes.
In nature, animals pretty much live in a defined existence that is set by their genetically predetermined instincts. An animal’s behaviour will basically be the same as another animal of the same species. Man, by his nature, has a much larger range of possible behaviours.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau long ago wrote about this in his Discourse on Inequality and stated that man is the only animal that tries to improve himself. We are the only animal that deliberately sets out to change ourselves.
He refers to this as the ‘perfectibility of man‘ and that is is not because he is capable of learning new skills but because he is capable of learning on his own. He goes on to say that it is not the capacity to choose but the ability to refuse the call of his own instincts in favour of other actions for delayed gratification.
I believe that what he was referring to was man being able to overcome his ego instincts that are being shown to be just as genetically present as an animal’s instincts. We are closest to being animalistic when in our instinctual ego’s reactions are in control.
New Year’s resolutions are a reminder of who we are, what we are and what we are supposed to do with our lives. I believe that it is in our nature to improve ourselves. It is always difficult to change as a person and it shows in our statistics of New Year’s resolution failures. But a small percentage of people do improve themselves.
These are the people that will change the world and become an integral part of our evolution of mankind. Improving our self is becoming a part of improving the world. Improving our self in a quality way is a major aspect of the road map that will lead us into the great unknown of humanity’s future.
Scott Trettenero’s recent book, Master the Mystery of Human Nature: Resolving the Conflict of Opposing Values helps readers learn about themselves, others and how the world works because of our differences.
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