Human will is an animal propensity, not a faculty of Soul. Hence it cannot govern man aright. … Will — blind, stubborn, and head-long — cooperates with appetite and passion. From this cooperation arises its evil.
— Mary Baker Eddy
A friend e-mailed me the other day to ask what I thought about making New Year’s resolutions.
I made some resolutions last year, mostly in response to a blog meme. I didn’t make any the year before, for reasons I outlined here.
I don’t, as a general rule, make New Year’s resolutions. Something about the whole idea just bugs me, although I couldn’t put my finger on what it was until I started to reply to my friend’s e-mail the other day:
Many New Year’s resolutions are designed to address unhealthy behaviors of one kind or another. Most such resolutions crash and burn in less than a month. Why? Because willpower and a deadline won’t heal the underlying spiritual problem that leads most of us to participate in unhealthy behavior in the first place.
For example: How many of us have resolved to lose weight, quit smoking, drink less alcohol, or pay off credit-card bills?
Smoking, drinking, overeating, and overspending are all addictive behaviors. If January 1 had some magic power to break addictions, the Betty Ford Clinic would be out of business. To quit smoking, we need to be healed of the desire to smoke. To quit drinking, we need to be healed of the desire to drink. To lose weight, we need to be healed of the desire to overeat. You get the idea.
The trouble with a New Year’s resolution is that we are imposing an artificial deadline on healing. I can tell you from experience: That doesn’t work. It only tempts us to rely on our own willpower at the very moment when we most need to silence human will and let divine Mind — God — govern our thoughts and actions.
I won’t be making any resolutions this year. Instead, I will continue to work toward healing in those areas of my life that need it, and I will continue to be grateful for the spiritual progress I’ve made up to this point. Anything beyond that seems counterproductive.