Day 56: New Year’s Resolution

I was planning to write this post more than a month ago,  but somehow I totally forgot about it and did not have a chance to look at my little notebook where I put down quite clearly by hand “2016 New Year’s Resolution — Day 52.” Well. I missed it by 4 days, since it’s Day 56 today. But let me get to it anyway. Let me begin with a question: What’s the difference between being a flip-flopper and someone who evolves and improves?

I have been thinking about this question quite intensely in the past few weeks, especially as I was watching the debates between the presidential hopefuls whether that be the Democrats and the Republicans. They’re the same, in the way that almost everyone of the contenders has been attacked for being a “flip-flopper.” So, I looked up the meaning in the most trusted source of knowledge on the planet called Urban Dictionary, and this was what I got:

A flip-flopper is someone who goes back and fourth. For instance, this person could one day be someone’s friend and the next day this person is not.

I was kidding, of course, about how I see Urban Dictionary as the most trusted source (although I use it regularly because I always want to connect with the younger people). So, I also looked up Oxford English Dictionary, and what I got was much simpler but extremely well crafted and to the point: “make an abrupt reversal of policy.” So, it seems to be the case that in politics, people do hold dear the notion of consistency. If you’d happened to believe in something, you’d have to stick to it until the very end of your political life. It seems, though rather extreme, fair enough.

That said, something hit me hard when I was in the shower the other day. So, does this mean if you don’t want to be a flip-flopper, you’d then have to stick to a certain belief even though you’ve become smarter and hence know that which isn’t the case anymore? For example, I once believed that coffee is bad for you because it’s what “only adults drank” to keep them going, alert, and on their feet. There had gotten to be something malignant in coffee that would do something like that to people. Yet, one day in 2010, I learned from an academic journal on a recent research on the benefits of coffee that in fact coffee is good for you — and in fact, it’s so good that everyone should drink it often: the more the better. I thought to myself then, “oh, wow, this is great, so what I once misleadingly believed in then was just something that I happened to believe in because I didn’t have the scientific knowledge that wasn’t available hitherto.” So, I turned around 360 degrees at that very moment. Since then have become a coffee drinker who not only loves to drink coffee, but also to learn more about coffee cultures in and coffee beans from different places as well as to become an amateur in the world of coffee-making. Am I a flip-flopper? I might be because I, by definition, make an abrupt reversal of my decision to believe in something. Right? But is it bad for me, and/or for the society? Well, by definition always, someone has told me that you would have to be able to flip back to the original position also with the same intensity of abruptness to be considered a serious flip-flopper. Let’s leave that discussion for another time.

The point of all of this is to say that we are all flip-floppers in some ways. If we aren’t, we probably would not have survived as a specie all this long (I mean thousands of years). We would have extincted from the face of the earth if we only stuck to something that we happen to believe in because we didn’t have any information to believe otherwise, and still did so even if we have a proof that believing would be better. So, this new year’s resolution is all about me being a flip-flopper. I have learned over the years what is good and what is bad for me and for the society; hence, I have decided to make a systematic change in the way I think about my way of life. If you don’t have time to go through the list below, here’s the short version of it backed by research:

In 6 Things That Determine How Long You’ll Live, the researchers then scored the participants on six behavior measures: Smoking, alcohol use, dietary behavior, physical inactivity, sedentary behavior and sleep.

Yes, so, don’t smoke, only consume alcohol moderately (a little bit is good for you actually but too much will kill you), do eat healthily, do exercise, do not sit down too much, and do not deprive yourself from sleep.

For the long version, here we go:

  1. I will get more sleep — in particular more “deep sleep” because, as research has shown, sleep is good for you and sleep deprivation not only can make you less efficient at work and at life, but can also actually kill you as it could slowly incrrease the chance of you getting Alzheimer. Scary, right? So, do go sleep, guys. So far, I have been sleeping about 6-8 hours a day (with only less than 1/3 of that which is the deep sleep phrase) — in fact, the best way to sleep is to sleep naked!;
  2. I will drink more coffee;
  3. I will monitor my alcohol consumption. I will not stop drinking completely because as Harvard has shown moderate drinking “both protects against cardiovascular disease and helps guide the development of an embryo’s spinal cord, has equally important jobs later in life.”Plus, as a recent research has shown, drinking is a great way to de-stress yourself and socialize with other people, getting to know people who would want to make your life more meaningful!;
  4. I will eat more organic produce. In the past year, I have lost about 10 pounds from only eating healthy organic food. I think it’s clear that food that were organically produced (without using synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides) is good for you;
  5. I will learn more about positive psychology. I don’t know what have gotten into me recently, but I have become much more aware of how my mind could be shaped by reading academic papers about positive psychology, such as why keeping my house tidy is good for my mental health, why writing is good for my brain, why exercising in the morning is great and why checking emails after getting up is a no-no. Whatever it is, I believe that I owe my interest in psychology to two authors: Drs Steven Pinker and Jonathan Haidt. So thank you!;
  6. I will write down my daily goals every day. It’s clear, as I have written and spoken elsewhere, that writing down goals that one would like to set for oneself regularly could increase the chance of the goals becoming true. Writing is like magic. It has so  many great benefits. Let me summarize other thinker’s words:  Writing down what you want will force you to clarify what you want, motivate you to take action, provide a filter for other opportunities, help you overcome resistance, and finally writing will enable you to see—and celebrate—your progress (thank you, positive psychology!);
  7. I will travel more. Although every time I travel I lose something (I  mean, objects — during my last trip in Japan I lost my father’s fountain pen; crying, crying), but at the same time I also learn more about myself. There’s a magic in being in an unfamiliar place and surrounded by strangers. This kind of situation forces me to think about who I am. In a place where nobody knows me, and usually can’t communicate with me because of the language barrier, I often have to let my quality from within shrine in order to survive. That’s the trick and that’s what I’d love to have more time and chance to explore;
  8. I will bike more (duh…);
  9. I will give more, and talk less;
  10. I will walk and exercise more (now that I have a pedometer of which I set 10,000 steps a day my goal) and sit less;
  11. I will continue to believe that people are naturally good, so that I continue to be a human being.

That’s it. I hope to be able to accomplish them (most people give up their resolutions within the first two months). I won’t!



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