Don’t just resolve — evolve

Published 2:32 pm Tuesday, January 5, 2016

It’s the first week in January and time for making resolutions. For most of us, making a New Year’s resolution is like buying a lottery ticket  — we don’t expect to win, but it’s fun to give it a try.

Talk, of course, is cheaper than buying lottery tickets.

The main conversation on Facebook this week was all about self-improvement for the new year: weight loss, an exercise regimen or adding positive (or subtracting negative) influences. This first week of January, the topic of self-improvement is everywhere — in casual conversations at the grocery store, at the post office — even the retirement home.

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The subject of Sunday’s sermon at The Woodland, where I play for the service once a month, was resolutions. Apparently there’s no escaping the need for self-improvement at any age.

Unfortunately most resolutions made at the new year are doomed to failure. The reason, according to an article in the January issue of “Woman’s Day” magazine, is a matter of perspective.

“When you try to be a blessing to someone else, it shifts the focus from yourself, fostering a sense that life is good,” assistant professor of psychology at California State University Kristin Layous said. “Even one kind gesture may boost your mood.”

The article lists several simple do-good acts to shift the resolution focus from inward to outward: commend police officers and firefighters for the good work they do; send a care package to a soldier overseas; give blood; offer to shovel an elderly neighbor’s sidewalk; or leave coupons beside a product on the grocery store shelf.

Such actions, Layous said, lead to an optimistic outlook with benefits ranging from fewer colds and less physical pain to stronger relationships — even a longer life.

Put another way, this New Year’s don’t just resolve — evolve. Make the world a better place throughout the year.

Marge Swayne is the lifestyles editor of The Farmville Herald. Her email address is