By Linda Szugyi
I’ve never done the New Year’s resolution thing.
The way I always figured, why start the new year by setting yourself up for failure? I mean, if you haven’t reached a particular goal in your life already, how is a new digit going to make it happen? I can’t even remember to write the new year on my checks until April or so. It is highly doubtful that I will have remembered to keep a resolution in the meantime.
Besides, resolutions are just one more way to stress ourselves out. If there is one thing we all need less of, it is stress. Perhaps the best resolution one could ever make would be to worry less. But how, exactly, does a person worry less when he has just given himself a new resolution to worry about? Now there’s some pretty inescapable logic right there.
Still. The ‘worry less’ resolution is mercifully non-quantifiable. Without a clear-cut division between success (size 8!) and failure (size 14?!?), failure isn’t even an option.
So there you go. The fail-proof resolution for 2014: worry less. Easier said than done, but at least you can’t fail. I think I’ve even figured out a shortcut to the goal: ignore the experts.
Experts are a major source of worry in today’s society. They specialize in every conceivable topic, so let’s pick just one to discuss: food.
Experts told us to stop eating fat. Then they told us it’s okay to eat fat as long as it’s the good fat. They explained how animal fat is the bad fat, until they decided that trans fats are the bad fat. Then they explained that sugar is the real bad guy. And also the processed foods. Unless it is milk, and then unprocessed is very, very bad. Speaking of milk, aren’t the processed ones suspect unless the word “organic” is prominently displayed, and the price jacked up accordingly? And wasn’t soy milk is a better alternative, until it wasn’t?
They told us that salt is really bad, until it wasn’t anymore. They warned us against caffeine almost a whole century ago. For the sake of variety, they took a rest from finger-wagging about fat, sugar, and salt, and explained how wheat is bad, especially the part called gluten. Some of them focused on artificial colors and high fructose corn syrup. For some experts, meat is the culprit.
Basically, unless you are eating an apple or a carrot grown in your own back yard, somebody out there disapproves. No wonder we are all stressed out.
The technological advances of our society are wonderful, but they have given us the impression that life is too complex to figure out on our own. Modern society has decided that only the experts know best.
But that’s not true. Even experts lack key information, and risk is an inherent part of life. Think about Christopher Columbus. He may have been a great sailor and explorer, but it’s not like he had a GPS when he set out across the Atlantic.
We don’t need GPS precision for every aspect of life. Instead, we need to rely on our common sense and natural skepticism. We need to trust our own instincts instead of the latest expert opinion. Our society’s quest for protection against unknown dangers–its obsession with safety–is part and parcel of the madness that elected a planet-healing president. Unfortunately, even conservatives fall prey to this mentality.
So let’s all do our part to bring rugged individualism back to our culture, by ignoring the experts and worrying less. Do what your own conscience–guided by God if you are so inclined–tells you. And have a great 2014.