Make resolutions to always keep improving self

Columnist and Columnist

By now we have all made and broken our New Year’s resolutions.

I had four. While they are still attainable, I have botched them all in the last three weeks also.

I resolved to lose 80 more pounds this year, to stop swearing, to be more patient and to start reading the Bible.

I can tell you this dear readers I am still cussing way too much. I am still overeating and ignoring my post-gastric bypass diet. I have not picked up my new Bible yet either.

To my shame, I have not exhibited more patience. While failing at these resolutions makes me part of the majority, I must not despair for I can reboot and start them all again; just a little later than New Year’s Day.

In my haste to make these four resolutions, I stupidly forgot to add a fifth one.

As it turns out, it is the most important of all to listen. I do not mean to hear and wait to talk, I mean to really, ardently listen.

I grew up in a family of arguers. We talked with each other, at each other and over each other. We finished each other’s sentences.

While this is insensitive and obnoxious, it was our norm. Well, it really was not our norm; it was my norm.

I am good company. I can remember outlandish details from decades ago. I tell these anecdotes in an entertaining way.

This isn’t to brag, I just know myself.

Lest you think I am arrogant, believe me, I know what I cannot do well and it requires NASA to count a number that high. One of the things I do not do well is being patient in conversation and really listening to people.

When I resolved to be more patient, I meant mostly while interacting with my loved ones and friends. I wait to talk and most of the time I do not even wait. It is unfair, boorish and disrespectful also.

I have always absolved myself of blame for this behavior, claiming that it really was not a problem. I am confessing today that it most certainly is a problem, one that is growing by the day.

Why am I telling this to you, the readers of the BG News? It is to tell you that no matter how well things are going for you, you still can improve.

My life has been on a roll for five years now. I get complacent and tell myself that things could not possibly be better.

I have a wife and family that I adore. I am in my second year of graduate school, I have lost 180 pounds and I feel so alive.

All this is terrific, but I have made the mistake of thinking I am finished, that I do not need to improve. I am telling you all to not fall into this delusional trap. It will only lead to frustration and strife.

Being 42 years old, I sometimes fall into the role of Grandpa Paul when I interact with my younger fellow students and friends. Take these words of advice from your Grandpa Paul, do not stop trying to improve yourself.

Do not think you are a finished product. Ask yourselves everyday “How can I do better?”

I forget to tell myself this every day, just like we all do. I am here to tell you that I for one would be a better person if I did this.

So let us take this to be our collective New Year’s resolution. We all should work to improve ourselves: to be more patient, more loving, friendlier and to really listen.

Let us be courteous and giving with our family and friends. In the end, no one is going to care what we weighed or whether we made the Dean’s List or not.

All anyone will remember is whether or not you kept improving and kept striving to be as good a person as possible.

That is my goal for 2013. Take it from Grandpa Paul, it should be yours too.

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