Dear Madame L,
What's your advice on making New Year's resolutions?
Resolved to do Better
Madame L stopped making New Year's resolutions a few years ago when she realized they never helped her change her behavior or improve her life in any way.
Instead of attempting to make huge changes in her life at the beginning of the new year, which, after all, is when it's dark and gloomy and hard to even get out of bed (let alone scrape the ice off the car and drive down a scary hill) when it's freeze-raining outside, Madame L has been trying to take baby steps all through the year.
Madame L read a few years ago about Ben Franklin's step-by-step plan for self-improvement. He worked on one area at a time, giving himself three weeks to improve that one thing. Remarkable, isn't it, since behavioral scientists now say that's about the amount of time it takes to create a new habit!
Madame L hasn't been able to find that same bit of trivia again, but by using "DuckDuckGo" she has found some other great hints from the great man. Here's a PBS page with his thoughts about Mind, Body, and Behavior. (You may want to follow some of the links from that page to other fascinating info about this great man.)
Here's an interesting website created by an actor who impersonates Ben Franklin. And here is Ben Franklin's list of admirable character traits:
1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.
2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
12. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
These are all traits to work on every day, the key being the fourth one: "Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve."
Happy New Year, and best wishes for feeling better and doing your part to make the world a better place,