Resolutions: Wisdom of Sages Down the Ages

December 31, 2015

On New Year Day 2016, the question of to resolve or not to resolve comes into focus. To help Daijiworld readers to make an informed choice, I present you the wisdom of writers and sages down the ages.

On New Year’s Day, some years ago,
I swore off alcohol;
And, one year later, I eschewed
Pipes, cigarettes, et al.
The next, I quit profanity
As something not too nice.
And then abandoned slot machines,
Card games, roulette and dice.
Thus curing faults each year, I reached
A state of such perfection
That I have not a single flaw
Now calling for correction.
But New Year’s Day now for me
A ruined Institution;
For what is New Year’s Day without
A New Year’s resolution?
- Leverett Lyon

A fatality of good resolutions is that they are always late.
- Oscar Wilde

Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.
- Oscar Wilde

One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but it breaks a New Year’s resolution.
- Anonymous epigram

What reinforcement we may gain from hope;
If not, what resolution from despair.
- John Milton

At thirty, man suspects himself a fool,
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
At fifty, chides his infamous delay,
Pushes his prudent purpose of resolve,
In all magnanimity of thought;
Resolves, and re-resolves, then dies the same,
And why? Because he thinks himself immortal,
All men think all men mortal but themselves.
- Edward Young

In truth there is no such thing as man’s nature as a settled and full resolve either for good or evil, except at the very moment of execution. 
– Nathaniel Hawthorne

Never tell your resolution beforehand.
- John Sheldon

But this Johnie who on his way back from the office always took a detour from the strait road to waste his time and money in the bar. He announced to his friends that on New Year he would give it all up. They told him to keep away from the bar street and walk on the strait road and avoid temptation of getting into the bar. He boasted that he had strong will power and to prove that he would return home through the bar road. And he did. He stopped before the bar for a while to test his will power and then said: "Resolution stand firm here; I am going in".

"It is better to have loved and lost,
Than never to have loved at all.
So says Alfred Tennyson. Similarly, it is better to have resolved and lost than never to have resolved at all. Never condemn those who resolve as Satan did to his followers in Milton’s Paradise Lost: “Awake, arise or be for ever fallen”

Rather, it should be William Wordsworth who says that greatness lies not in never falling but in rising every time you fall.

Let us also remember that we in India have many opportunities to fall and rise and make fresh resolutions. These include birthdays of self, parents, spouse and children, wedding anniversaries, regional New Years like Ugadi and Pongal, Diwali, Chistmas, Easter and other festivals.

Risen or fallen in your resolutions, I salute you and wish you the very best for New Year 2016.



By John B Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • Sheetal, Puttur

    Sun, Jan 03 2016

    Nice collection of sayings for the New Year.

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Sat, Jan 02 2016

    Thank you Mr Monteiro for a light-hearted, yet thought-provoking article.

    We are so busy everyday that wanting to reassess ourselves and our behaviour/habits just never crosses our mind.

    So, the New Year day comes with one more habit (although not universal I guess) - it is the day to make some resolution.

    So, regardless of whether we fail in our resolution (and mostly we do) or not, at least it gives us an opportunity to step out of ourselves and look at what needs to be done to turn us into a near-perfect human being.

    For most of us, unfortunately, there are too many bad habits, and we might need a 100 New Year days each year to bring ourselves back on track! Some disciplined creatures though have actually succeeded in giving up on alcohol, smoking, eating meat, etc.

  • SKM, Mangalore

    Thu, Dec 31 2015

    New year will come every year, but it will not change one's life unless he cahnges his plans, ideas, life style and habits. It is more important for yonger generation/students to start new with the new year like setting the goals, for study and career achievements and strive for that. My abe the new year 2016 bring happiness and proseperity to all

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