New Year’s resolutions: are we lying to ourselves?

New Year's Resolutions, are we lying to ourselves?

Is it good to lie to ourselves?

Why do we constantly fool ourselves?

Was Dr. Pangloss right?

Snap out of it and refuse to live in a fool’s paradise.

An advocate of lying

Being in a festive mood, I will open my heart to you and confess that, in a certain way, I am an advocate of lying.

This confession might shock and send you into a snit, but give me the benefit of the doubt and hear me out.

You may even agree with me.

White lies and fibbing are the foundations of our daily social interaction and without them life would be tougher to bear.

From morning till dusk we lie our mouths off without thinking twice about it, and to the joy of listeners and recipients of our lies.

Every year we perhaps set out to lie to ourselves as we make New Year's resolutions. Here I offer you an alternative to these lies.

“Am I fat?” our sister asks. She is a bit chubby, obese even, but she does not want to hear that, and we know it.

So, we lie through our teeth: “No, you look great. In fact, I thought you had lost weight.”

So, as I was saying, I endorse the value of fibbing and lying to make our lives easier, more comfortable.

To climb the rungs of success fast, I am in favor of stashing the truth, concealing it, adorning and disguising it; in short: merrily lying and fibbing our way through life in order to achieve our ends, our goals.

There are limits, of course: do not lie to cheat or take.

Nature is unaware that a year is ending and a new one is just about to begin.

But man, the inventor of the calendar, thinks that when he rips off—no pun intended—the last calendar page called December, and has before him a new page called January, a handsel, he believes, something new and magical is going to happen.

The calendar divides the year into twelve months. Twelve experiences. And this handsel gives us the opportunity to perform the most horrendous crime of all: lying to ourselves.

Every year we perhaps set out to lie to ourselves as we make New Year's resolutions. Here I offer you an alternative to these lies.
Photo: Pexels

We fool ourselves

We start the new year lying to ourselves: making New Year’s resolutions, year in, year out.

We fool ourselves into believing that we can snap out of it simply by writing 10 life-changing New Year’s resolutions.

The problem lies with those who peddle the ostrich philosophy: if you ignore it, it’s not there.

If you lie to yourself, you will be happy.

We are urged to go on a positive-thinking spree.

We are told to close our eyes to reality and start the hideous, devastating, and personality—destroying bad habit of lying to ourselves, fooling ourselves into believing that a personality carved out by the ups and downs of life, by society, is going to change course by writing a list of impossible dreams.

Also read: 5 Ways to reach your goals year round

New Year's Resolutions: Are we lying to ourselves?

New Year’s resolutions show the amount of lying we inflict upon ourselves.

You know damn well that you are not going to quit smoking because you try every year, and you have tried plenty of times and you are still a three-pack smoker.

Do not make resolutions: Act, do it

Put your action where your mouth is. Stop buying cigarrettes.

This year I am going to exercise and lose 50 pounds.

I am going to be happy no matter what.

I am going to find a job I like.

I am going to change my junk-food eating habits.

I am going to quit smoking and drinking.

Reality is the way it is. One thing is to fib to others, but lying to ourselves is something else.

To deceive ourselves in a pointless, stupid manner that will lead us to disaster and failure. Peddlers of the “positive-thinking school” make people unhappy and disappointed.

What do I offer instead?

Instead of blind optimistic illusions, I offer quiet, daily action.

Instead of believing everything will be fine, I offer toil and sweat, plenty of sweat.

Every year we perhaps set out to lie to ourselves as we make New Year's resolutions. Here I offer you an alternative to these lies.
Photo: Pixabay

Instead of delusions about how well everything is going to be, I offer the stark reality and doing something about it.

Instead of blaming others and Fate, I offer you to get hold of the helm of your boat.

Instead of resignation, I offer get-up-and-go pep and energy.

Instead of fantasy, I offer the truth so that you will stop fooling yourself.

Do not fool yourself: look at your life the way it is, and be realistic, and then ACT. Do not write resolutions, lest the new year goes by, duplicating last year, as a carbon copy of it.

And then, in spare moments, read Voltaire’s Candide or the Optimist, a thin 1759 best-seller, where you will read the practical precept: we must cultivate our garden, we must take action and fantasize less, standing firmly on our own two feet.

Snap out of it and refuse to live in a fool’s paradise. Face reality and do something about it, in earnest. Now.

Most of us make a list of resolutions at the beginning of the year. We rarely accomplish them. Or, do we? Here is some science behind why resolutions may or may not work. #resolutions #newyears #motivation

Delfín Carbonell is a graduate of Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh. He holds a Ph.D. in Philology from Madrid and has authored 35 books in both English and Spanish, published by McGraw-Hill, Barron’s, Larousse, Anaya and Serbal. He has taught at Pitt, F&M, Scranton and Murray St. University.


  • Reply January 3, 2020


    I stopped setting New Year’s resolutions. I found that a resolution is hard and fast and fails quickly. Instead I look at what I want to achieve in my lifetime and then work backwards to this year to determine what I need to work on to get closer to my goals.

    • Reply January 3, 2020

      Viva Fifty

      That is a really smart and practical way to go about it. Thank you for sharing!

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