Here is the good news: you’re not making any resolutions this January. Here is the better news: you don’t have to change at all. Here is the best news: other people’s faults will boost your self-esteem. Please keep reading.

            Every time the calendar turns one tiny digit larger, people freak out. Somehow we’re so enslaved to that manmade division of time that each twelve months we kowtow to its invisible authority and sacrifice one or more of our vices as though in a pagan ritual. That is to say we make new year’s resolutions. Then, one to three months later, the bulk of us break them. This pattern needs to stop.       

            If you are a person who wants to improve the quality of his life, then more power to you. Maybe you already see this time of year as your launch pad, your starting point, the catalyst that helps you shave away whatever it is that’s preventing you from being the man you want to be. But what about those flaws you don’t possess? Those nasty habits that are dragging down your friends or coworkers? When was the last time you paused to pat yourself on the back for not carrying those burdens?

            That’s what I’m talking about: improvement through celebration of what simply is not there. This new year, consider the following in lieu of promising to stop doing something you clearly love:

1)      You are not possessed by demons. This is helpful to remember when your urge is to resolve to go to church more often or become more religious. You have to consider that some people really are possessed by demons, and you are not one of them. Those people have it bad. Rent The Exorcist again and you’ll agree. Or, for a stronger opinion on the subject, rent Lost Souls starring Winona Ryder. The possessed victims in that movie had it so bad they couldn’t even get an original plot together, and their lead actress was clearly embarrassed to be around them. At least Linda Blair got a high-caliber supporting ensemble for her turn.

2)      You are not asocial. This is largely for the alcoholics. Just remember: drinking with others is spending time with others, and that’s a good thing. The benefits of fraternizing on a regular basis have been scientifically documented since we were dwelling in caves (and had cavemen smart enough to do scientific studies). People who live in recluse are likely to think God is talking to them, load up on guns and declare their houses sovereign nations. Others spontaneously combust. Some do turn out like Emily Dickinson, but she was an aberration. Stay social this new year and see—it won’t preclude your being a brilliant poet.

3)      You are not anorexic. Obviously, the resolution to lose weight is among the most popular. It may even be advised by medical doctors and relationship counselors. Still, anorexia nervousa is a most serious disorder, and those who suffer from it are certainly no better off than you (though they might have multimillion-dollar modeling contracts). If you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and thinking you may have more in common with honey-chasing woodland beasts than you’d like, just be glad you’re capable of eating at all. Then scare off the campers and devour their s’mores.

4)      You are not Keith Richards. This one will help anyone who wants to improve his overall health. Yes, it is always a good idea, and the new year is the most common time to set out to do it, but give yourself a little credit: most of your organs still function and medical experts are not marveled at that. You may not be a famous sexagenarian, or rich, but when you show up at people’s houses, no one wonders how you managed to elude the Grim Reaper yet again that day. There is still plenty of your body left for you to pickle or smog up, so get to work.

5)      Your life is not reality television. This can help you deal with almost anything. Seriously, can you imagine a worse fate? First, it creates in its subjects a wholly false sense of importance by having millions of people pay attention to the microscopic details of their lives—between commercial breaks only—for a period of maybe one season. After that, all attention is removed and the subjects are left with a feeling that no one loves them any more, save the one “winning” subject who is allowed to receive love again for a single episode only of the following season, should the show last. And he has the burden of the IRS to deal with. Second, it is impossible to appear intelligent on reality television, no matter how smart you may actually be. Impossible—rejoice.  


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