New Year’s Eve has long been one of my favorite days of the year. I love the notion that we begin each year with a fresh start and energized hope to create a better future.
The line dividing December 31st from the future rest of our lives is, admittedly, completely fabricated—but so is most of human happiness. Manipulating our minds into states that let us welcome joy, closeness, and confidence has helped people get through life since human brains evolved enough to experience sadness. As my younger, more cynical self learned in Social Psychology class, there’s nothing wrong with a little self-delusion to make you feel better about life. Lasting happiness and positive change require a whole lot of directed thinking, in fact.
So the artificiality of New Year’s doesn’t bother me. Its arbitrarily fixed date at the end of the calendar just operates as a periodic reminder for you to step back from your life and assess what you’d like to do with it. The end of the year timing makes it easier for you to ditch the attitudes and habits you’d like to shed, symbolically leaving them in the now oh-so-distant past of “last year.” Once you’re out of school, life is woefully lacking in that kind of forced chapter break.
So I make the most of the holiday and write my resolutions every year. Even if I don’t wind up fulfilling them, I still feel better thinking that I’m moving on to better things. And that’s more than half the battle.