Instead of helping yourself, why not try help others? Bradley Green asks the question.

By the time you read this Christmas will be just a distant memory, and the New Year resolutions will be mere fables. It is strange that we have to wait until the end of one unsatisfactory year, before we do anything useful in ensuring our future selves are better than the present mess (don’t worry, I’m targeting myself). Stopping smoking is always a trusty favourite, which is all well and good until you get to day four and realise you’ve been glaring at the strangely elegant thin white stick protruding from your friend’s mouth for 10 solid minutes, gagging for a puff. Abstaining from alcohol is very high on the list too, a fair proportion of us go dry for January thinking that it is some kind of miracle cure for all the terribly gluttonous habits that had just come to the fore in that special time of the year. So along with some other favourites such as losing weight, eating healthier, learning more etc., it’s pretty evident that these are mostly just mini vanity projects, and I personally think it’s somewhat missing the point. If we were to use that often over looked and underused feeling named empathy we could help each other help ourselves by just being a little more attentive and thoughtful to our fellow human beings. Why stop there, if you have the capacity: give a dog a bone, set the birds free, resuscitate a frozen bee – ok, so I doubt we are going to wake up in the morning as Gandhi or Mother Theresa, but you get the idea.

I actually think ‘resolution’ is the wrong word anyway, for the meaning of the word is a firm decision to do or not do something. But are we really making that firm of a decision? We could just say I’m going to ‘try’ to not eat cake for breakfast, or I’m going to ‘try’ and be a model employee. Now then, there’s no need to set yourself up for failure, is there? As I was saying, I think helping others, even if it’s just helping an old person cross the street, or giving a friend a hand to paint their house, is a lot more purposeful and satisfying than going dry for January in my opinion. Let us not forget, what goes around comes around.

I make little attempts frequently to try and change certain things but I’m only kidding myself. People don’t change. However they do grow, and they do learn, so if you are feeling a little disappointed with yourself for perhaps being a bit weak willed, or occasionally obnoxious, just remember Charles Dickens once said: “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” So let’s not beat ourselves up everytime a mistake is made, or a promise is broken, yet endeavour to learn and to always lend a helping hand to others in need. I personally am abstaining from abstaining; it’s a kind of revolution against resolutions!