New Year’s resolutions gone wrong

Broken them already, have you?  Personally, I can’t count the number of years I vowed to diet, only to pig out within days of the holiday.  New Year’s resolutions are tricky that way.  Too often we set ourselves up for failure with yet another promise to work out or quit smoking or limit screen time.

There are many reasons for failure.  Some are valid.  Others, not so.

Spiral strands of DNA on the dark background

Take genes.  Here’s the rationale.  Our genes are to blame.  There’s nothing we can do.   If we’re genetically prone to being overweight, why try to stick to a diet?  And exercise?  If our parents were couch potatoes by nature, we will be, too, right?  Why quit drinking, if addictive behavior runs in the family.  Heck, why try to be nicer to others, if we come from generations of people with attitude?

Do I believe the above?  No.  If you’ve read my books, you know that.   I see the glass as half full.  My books, my characters, my life are about growth.  I refuse to accept that a person is doomed by her genes. I inherited breast cancer.  But because I had regular mammograms, my own breast cancer was caught early enough to cure it.

In fairness, that has to do with medical advances.  Some genetic factors are more dicey.  Studies have shown, for instance, that parents prone to addiction often have children with the same genetic predisposition.  But doesn’t the example we see also feed into our behavior?  If we see a parent dealing with stress by finding fault with everyone in sight, don’t we learn to deal with stress the same way?

It’s the old nature versus nurture debate.  Is our behavior inherited or learned?  What do you say?  Me, I say a little of both.  A child may be born with the same volatility as one of his parents, but she can also be taught awareness and self-control.

Alcoholism, diabetes, and heart health all have genetic components.  But we may be able to make many  of these cases better by our own lifestyle choices.

But we have to want to do it.  Breaking bad habits is hard work.  We can blame our genes until the cows come home, but at what point is bad behavior simply … bad behavior?  At what point do we need to take responsibility for our actions?  At what point does TAKING RESPONSIBILITY become the best New Year’s resolution?

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