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The Cure for Resolution Confusion: Let’s Just be Grateful

Sporadic philosopher Cameron Sullivan reflects on past and future New Year’s inspirations.

Some years I make so many New Year’s resolutions that they lead to a state of resolution convolution, a condition epitomized by acute confusion with dilution of resolutions, resulting in resolution destitution.

This year, I’m keeping it simple.

For 2012, I’m going to participate more actively in gratitude.

I’m starting today, Dec. 30, 2011.

Today and tomorrow, I’ll launch into the New Year by operating from a pronounced position of gratitude for life and for health — and for second chances at both.

It’s an annual ritual I’ve kept since Dec. 31, 1984 — exactly a year to the day after I woke up in a hospital having received both of those second chances and a readmission to life.

The details that inspired my ritual do not matter. What matters is an attitude that I found and have embraced for 27 years.

At the tender age of 16, on that first anniversary of my new lease on life, I began to willfully recognize my love for life, including its every foible, disappointment, frustration and injury.

Even the too-short, high-waisted, pleated jeans and shoulder-padded sweaters that were in fashion or my countless failed attempts to achieve 1980s “big hair” could not sway my gratitude for life.

Sure, like all of us, I’ve stumbled away from gratitude over the years and forgotten my way, either by my own fault or by factors out of my control.

Show me someone who’s grateful and happy 100 percent of the time and I’ll show you someone who isn’t human.

Anyone who’s ever shared a home — or office space or a friendship or the queue for parking spaces at the Trader Joe’s — with other humans understands this concept firsthand.

But gratitude can be habit forming when allowed to work its magic. And gratitude is arguably a healthier habit than drinking coffee, sneaking chunks of dark chocolate, or engaging in long stretches of Facebook voyeurism.

Of course, Facebook voyeurism has its benefits.

This week, for example, several of my Pleasanton Facebook friends posted material that played into the gratitude and happiness theme.

Alyssa Goard, a sophomore at Whitman College and graduate of Foothill High School, for example, is in the process of compiling her annual list of inspiring quotes to write out on her planner.

Suggestions from her Facebook friends include the hilarious:

"My theory is that if you look confident you can pull off anything--even if you have no clue what you're doing." - Jessica Alba.

the Biblical…

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” - Matthew 6:34.

and the simply-stated but smile-provoking…

"Why fit in when you were born to stand out?" - Dr. Seuss

There was also my contribution to Alyssa’s collection of quotes. It’s my new favorite quote, which I rediscovered the week before Christmas:

"It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour." - Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Meanwhile, my friend Erika introduced me to the work of humorist, songwriter, and educator, Jana Stanfield, who said, “I cannot do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good that I can do.”

Next up, I channeled the theroies of the great philosopher Plato, who believed in pure, disciplined love between friends and wrote that “No one is a friend to his friend who does not love in return."

But this Pleasanton Patch columnist and sometimes philosopher believes that, in order to experience that love and happiness between people, gratitude must first be in place.

Gratitude assumes appreciation. Appreciation leads to the love and stewardship toward others that Stanfield mentions.

Perhaps participating in gratitude will create residual benefits in the areas of happiness and better health.

For sure, it's bound to eliminate resolution stagnation.

Wendy Smith December 30, 2011 at 04:31 PM
Cameron, this particular resolution had been on my mind this week, being grateful for health, family, friends, etc. Thank you for the reminder.
ErikaG December 30, 2011 at 08:53 PM
I'm all for the attitude of gratitude. For many years my resolution at New Year's was simply to make no resolutions so I wouldn't disppointed when I broke them, but this year I'm going for it. My resolutions this year are to choose: the people I love, my writing and my running above all else because that is what makes me happy. And I'm grateful that I've figured that much out! -LOL!
Renate Valencia December 31, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Nice story!
Fran Cassell January 09, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Yes, always be grateful!
Stacey Gustafson January 26, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Right on! Keeping things simple increases the success rate. And being grateful is a lofty goal.

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