Welcome to the archived web site of
Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Psychologist (1950-2013)
California License No. PSY 10092
Specializing in Presence-Centered Therapy
balancing mind and heart, body and spirit

Now in memoriam - This website is no longer being updated
While Dr. Friedman is no longer with us, there are still many helpful resources on his site. Articles and resource links have been relocated to the top. His family hopes you might find them helpful. But since this site is no longer being updated, some links may no longer work.


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From His Book | Meditations For Life | The Flow of Money, Business and Innovation | Transpersonal/Mind-Body | Approaches, Worldview and Will-isms

Skills For Life: The Core Playing Field | Free the Ego, and You Are Free | Feeling, Thought, Communication & Action

Strategies/Distinctions For Life: The Core Playing Field | Free the Ego, and You Are Free

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Trade in Those Tired, Unrealistic New Year Resolutions For the Real Thing

© 2011 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[Originally in The Sun, San Bernardino, CA, Sunday December 30, 1990, page D4]

What on earth is our world celebrating on New Year's Day? And what are we doing with New Year's resolutions?

Historically, New Year's festivals are among the most ancient and universally observed. Such celebrations date from 2000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, and probably earlier.

Controversy over when to designate the New Year has raged for several millennia, with March 1, March 25, Sept. 21, Dec. 21 and Dec. 25 being the leading candidates in different societies fit various times. Although the Romans declared Jan. 1 to be New Year's Day in 153 B.C., it wasn't until well into the 17th and 18th centuries that most Countries accepted Jan. 1 as the beginning of the year.

Generally, the essence of New Year's rites and ceremonies worldwide was and is sheer jubilation over the renewal of life. New Year's also could be seen as a remembrance of the universe's creation on the symbolic anniversary of its genesis. It's a time for reviewing our lives and reassessing where we are in regard to our goals. It's our new opportunity to bloom into who we are meant to be.

The hallmark rite of the secular New Year's in America is making personal
resolutions for transforming our lives and world. Yearly, comedians and social pundits enjoy poking fun at this activity, especially with how frequently such resolutions are quickly broken, shrugged off, explained away and mercifully forgotten.

Yet, does our propensity to make New Year's resolutions tell us something provocative about ourselves? Does it even point to how this yearning of the human spirit can be made powerful and profoundly meaningful? Further, does it give us the strength of self to renew our lives and planet?

To start with, New Year's resolutions can be grossly misused. How often have you heard such resolutions cavalierly tossed off to impress others, gain approval or because it is expected, with no real interest or investment in personal change? Sometimes resolutions are used as manipulative ploys to placate another who has complained and nagged us to lose weight, improve our health, swear less or succeed more.

It's little wonder that the results are so sparse, given our suspect motives. Can we
expect New Year's resolutions for real thing better if our aim is merely to ingratiate, placate or do the socially accepted thing? Better to make no resolutions and mean that, than to make false, half-hearted gestures.

Finding our human respect demands that we let the decisions of others about their lives be their own free choice. To do otherwise is to cripple them and ourselves.

With honest motives, New Year's resolutions confirm the homily, "Hope springs eternal," or at least yearly, in the minds of most people. It tells us that most of us are well-intentioned in giving change a chance.

However, what realistic chance are we giving these resolutions? Unfortunately, resolutions as commonly used carry little weight or meaning. But what is the alternative for well-wishing people seemingly sleep-walking through this yearly charade?

With a willingness to grow, I propose that we redesign New Year's resolutions by infusing them with meaning, muscle and means to effectively change behavior. Specifically, let's focus our "best of intentions" on these five key elements:

  • Know and accept that real change typically is slower and more difficult than we'd like; so be kind, but firm.
  • Make a sincere investment in a few specific, short-term, workable goals.
  • Be "response-able" for your actions; be able to be accountable to yourself as well as another who deeply cares about you.
  • Reward yourself daily in constructive ways for your steps forward, and expect reversals as part of the change process.
  • Most importantly, bring an honest commitment to engage and pledge yourself to a new, healthy stand in life.

Let's transform the "false hope" of unrealistic, deceptive, too general and half-hearted New Year's resolutions into the "true hope" of freely chosen, specific, realistic and workable commitments. Incorporating these five components can make our desire to enrich our lives a possible, even life-affirming reality.

If this be your free choice, consider remaking those tired, hackneyed New Year's resolutions into vibrant, practical commitments. Give yourself a "designed for success" opening for personal transformation. With good will, let's take this opportunity for renewal and blossom into who we truly are.

George Demont Otis         Edge of the Marsh

Friedman, of Redlands, is a writer and licensed psychologist practicing In Loma Linda. He is also associated with CPC Rancho Undo Hospital in Fontana.

© 2011 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.


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