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New Year's Resolutions: A beginner's guide to self-improvement

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The end of the year is upon us, and with it comes the urge for New Year's resolutions. This annual ritual overtakes the nation for about three weeks in January each year, because … well, the exact history is tough to pin down, but I'm willing to assume it's got something to do with our culture's penchant for masochism.

At any rate, a new year's resolution is something most of us toy with fleetingly each year, something about 40 percent of us actually resolve to keep, and something only about 12 percent of that 40 actually keep. Incidentally, if you do the math, that means that every January more than 15 million Americans make a decision to better their lives. That's pretty cool, right?

If you're one of the 40 percent of Americans who is looking to make a change this year, rest easy because the major news outlets and even the federal government are working overtime to make sure your path to self-improvement is as easy as humanly possible.

CNN, for example, has this handy list of resolutions that even the laziest person could complete. Actually, being lazy might be a bonus; one of these suggestions involves just sleeping more.

Fox news, meanwhile, offers a (much needed) list of resolutions that several active social media users should adopt so they don't come off as such big jerks on Twitter in 2014. I salute this well-meaning - but inevitably useless - endeavor!

Perhaps the biggest repeat offender of the resolution help-a-thon is TIME magazine which has several articles devoted to New Year's. There's one with tons of ill-advised suggestions, like getting a dog to increase your exercise and giving a friend access to your bank account to help you lose weight. TIME also has a piece that offers tips on forming your New Year's resolutions. Finally, they published a piece that goes against the grain and tries to convince readers not to make resolutions at all.

Political advocates have also gotten in on the fun (because when don't they?). The RNC kicked things off by offering a set of e-cards offering potentially usefuls resolutions for President Barack Obama., meanwhile, published this list yesterday - a few helpful hints for the GOP to adopt in the coming year.

Sure, some people are twisting resolutions to their own ends, using this rare phenomena of self-improvement to their own ends, but that's hardly surprising. And sure, the vast majority who set out to change their lives will ultimately not succeed. But, the yearly exercise in optimism is always a welcome part of the new calendar year.



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