Words in the News


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter

The run-up to the new year typically sees a spate of recommendations in the media for ways to lead a happier, healthier life. These range from getting more exercise to eating healthily (or mindfully, in the current jargon) to reducing the time spent on social media. Those for whom experience has not yet crushed hope may well make New Year’s resolutions, only to realize days or weeks later that they have failed yet again to stick to them. Of course there are many who do carry through on their resolve to lead a better life, and kudos to them.

One of the problems, it seems, is that we are very bad at doing what we should do, rather than what we want to do; so saying to yourself ‘I really should walk to work’, or ‘I really must eat salad instead of chips’ is a surefire way of making sure you do no such thing. This is particularly true of resolutions to take more exercise or eat more healthily taken during the darkest, coldest months of the year (in the northern hemisphere of course – those living in the southern hemisphere have no such excuse). Focusing on the enjoyable aspects of the desired behaviour apparently leads to much more successful outcomes.

Resolution comes from the Latin ‘resolutio’ and is closely related to the verb resolve, from the Latin ‘resolvere’, meaning to loosen or release. The noun has several meanings, including the one referred to by Hamlet in the To be or not to be soliloquy. At least if the native hue of your resolution crumbles in the face of January’s harsh reality, you know you are not alone: an article in Business Insider claims that a mere 20% of us succeed in keeping to our resolutions for longer than six weeks.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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