"Enjoy life to the fullest."
"Spend less, save more."
These were some of America's most popular New Year's resolutions last year, according to a survey by NBC News. Each January, Forbes reports about 40% of the country make New Year's resolutions, and setting a goal at the start of the year is as much a part of the festivities as watching the ball drop in Times Square. You can decide to get healthy anytime during the year, so why has January 1st become a goal-setting holiday?
The tradition of making New Year's resolutions dates back over 4,000 years, to the ancient Babylonian festival of Akitu. During this 12-day celebration, the Babylonians would celebrate the "rebirth of the natural world." They would plant crops, crown a new king (or reaffirm the power of the reigning king), make promises to their gods, and pay back their debts. The Babylonians believed if they kept their promises to the gods, they would stay on the gods' good side, and if not, they would fall out of favor.
In 153 B.C., the Roman Senate declared that January 1st would signal the start of the new year, honoring the god Janus, according to the Washington Post. Because Janus was said to have two faces, he could look forwards and backwards at the same time, symbolizing the end of the previous year and the start of the new year ahead. However, it took over 100 years for this to take effect — Julius Caesar made it official around 46 B.C.E. Romans, similar to the Babylonians, would make promises to Janus about their behavior for the next year.
During the Middle Ages, knights would renew their vows to chivalry by placing their hand on a live or roasted peacock. The "Peacock Vow" was an annual contract taken at the end of each year, essentially a resolution to uphold the values of knighthood.
Modern new year's resolutions took on an American spin in the 19th century. The first recorded use of the phrase "new year resolution" appeared in a Boston newspaper in 1813.
While over a third of the population make New Year's resolutions every year, only 8% follow through on them. If your resolution is a lofty one, you may be setting yourself up for failure, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). In line with that thought process, the APA suggests you set more realistic goals, put it in writing, and only tell a handful of trusted confidants who will keep you on track, but allow you to slip up without holding it over your head.
We asked some of our residents what their resolutions were for 2019, and both MaryJane and Thelma fall in line with the top resolution of 2018- which is to get fit. MaryJane said this has been her new year’s resolution since she had open-heart surgery in her sixties, so it’s really just renewing her vow, similar to the knights of the Middle Ages. MaryJane reports she’s stuck to her vow and lost 30 pounds by walking every day. She even joked she’s in better shape than anyone she knows, including the staff at The Springs Living! Much like the knights of old, MaryJane is in fighting form!
Thelma says the drive behind her desire to be fit is because it keeps her sharp mentally and physically. If anyone knows a thing or two about mental fitness, it’s Thelma, who is going strong in her mid-90’s.
Beverly White is looking to retain her place as top scorer in the bridge league and hold onto her trophy.
Tom Odom says he’s had the same resolution for years, which is to be nice to his neighbors. He also adds his 2019 resolution, in addition to practicing kindness, which is to have a glass of wine every night. At the age of 96, kindness and wine must be the secret to a long and happy life.
Whatever your resolution, most experts agree finding a supportive community who will lift you up, move you forward, and wants to see you succeed is the best place to start, whether you want to invest more time in volunteering in 2019, learn a new hobby, travel, learn how to cook, or even get more sleep. Or perhaps you’ve resolved to not make a resolution, and just live each day to the fullest. Whatever you desire in 2019, we wish you the best. Happy New Year!