Churches are a bit more full, as are local civic meetings and volunteer projects. People are nicer to their neighbors and more patient with their friends and family.
But for most people, resolutions aren’t life-changing decisions, but slight course corrections; an opportunity to behave differently or better for a few weeks.
People eat less junk food, smoke fewer cigarettes and drink less alcohol. But then February comes and they’re back to normal for the next 11 months.
We are what we are and, sadly, resolutions don’t really change us for the long run. Resolutions are less a way to address your shortcomings and more of an effort to acknowledge them.
So, let’s enjoy our better selves for the next month and do everything we can to encourage each other to keep it up just a little longer this year.
For example, if you know someone who is trying to quit smoking, offer them words of encouragement. A kind word at the right moment could turn a failed effort into a great success.
If you know someone who is dieting and exercising engage them, and if you can offer them any helpful advice, please do so.
In other words, reach out and engage your friends and neighbors, be nice to them, be supportive.
And even more importantly, be nice to the people you don’t know. Say hello to your neighbors on the block you never speak to. Smile and say hello and good morning to people you see on the street.
It seems pretty simple, but we arrive at the end of 2019 under a dark cloud of hate and violence here in New York City. People are being attacked for no reason other than what religion they practice or the color of their skin.
And we find ourselves living in a city that currently seems to be doing its best to encourage bad and unlawful behavior. The police are being told to stand down and allow things that we, as a society, would never have allowed before.
I remember ten years ago when I was attending my first Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association meetings, residents would come in and complain about noise and trash and other quality-of-life issues, and these complaints would be taken seriously by the police and politicians.
Today, however, it’s hard to pass along such complaints because you’ve heard and seen far worse quality-of-life issues get ignored. Or in some cases, you’ve been told there’s nothing they can do about it.
And so, you feel powerless and look to the next year with a feeling of dreadful anticipation for what’s going to go wrong next.
But while the bigger picture might be a bit of a mess, we are not powerless to change things. And it goes back to the resolution of being nicer to your neighbors and friends and family, but especially strangers.
Each friendly word you give, each smile you deliver, makes a difference. And as we enter what is sure to be a contentious election year, it’s more important than ever for us to hold our neighborhood and this city together with kindness.
And that is my only serious New Year’s Resolution heading into 2020. I’m already going to the gym and I quit smoking 10 years ago. I would quit drinking, but the local establishments would really miss my business. And so my only New Year’s Resolution is to be as kind to everyone that I can.
Here’s wishing all of you a Happy and Healthy 2020, and I look forward to seeing you all on the streets of Woodhaven soon.