Stand-up comedian Kunal Rao explores the anatomy of a New Year's resolution
I have never been a New Year’s resolution kind of guy. I’ve always found them to achieve the exact opposite of what they are meant to — ie they make me feel as bad as they are supposed to make me feel good. Like you find out midway through the one-way road that you’re facing the wrong direction.
It has always fascinated me why humans make New Year’s resolutions. The “why” provides some very insightful insights inside the insides of the human brain.
Why we even bother
1. Peer pressure: It is the single largest reason for the success of any social convention, fad or a Salman Khan movie. “I saw this guy at PVR wear it” was the start of bell-bottoms (It’s true, I asked my dad). If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution because your “friends did”, you’re in the 99 percentile of human idiots. So call me when you hit puberty.
2. Newspaper articles: I would not be surprised if the whole resolutions thing was Socrates’ idea. Wait, let me check Sophie’s World. Yep, it was Plato, which is Greek for, “Watch what I make these idiots do!” If it weren’t for newspaper articles on resolutions, people would have stayed happy.
3. We need a challenge: The fact is humans love finding newer and more challenging ways to show the world that they are a disappointment. What better way than trying to quit smoking and coming off as a fidgety pathetic sycophant in the smoking lounge? Every weight-loss programme, charity foundation, and spend-time-with-my-family brunch started in January is the cliff we are about to fall off to a slow tired emotional deformity.
As a result, 88.3 per cent of resolutions are not met. The success of a declaration is directly proportionate to the oddness of the statistic used.
Your body reacts
Let me tell you the physiological impact of not achieving a New Year’s resolution:
1. Your body fills with a hormone similar to the break-up hormone; called bedriddine. It replaces testosterone and makes you sit on a couch watching the Twilight series while eating rajma-chawal with ice-cream.
2. You have a strong need to be comforted, sadly
combined with the Oedipus complex.
3. You end up reading dictionaries to look up words like Oedipus. Now, hormones are underrated. Testosterone levels on the beach in Goa on New Year’s Eve are responsible for 97.4 per cent of gym memberships in January.
Fact: Most New Year’s resolutions are made on a dare.
Fact: Most New Year’s resolutions are made when you’re drunk.
? Question: When you’re drunk and someone dares you to make a New Year’s resolution, what part of your brain gets you to spurt out “I want to get myself organised” — one of the top 10 New Year’s resolutions made?
People speak their deepest darkest desires when they are drunk. Which wannabe investment-banker-IT-professional-chartered-accountant nerd is thinking of re-arranging his underwear drawer at this point?
Actually, don’t answer that. I’m afraid I may know the answer.
The average resolution lasts the number of minutes it took for you to write the resolution minus number of years of marriage divided by the number of attempts at achieving said resolution. The easiest way to have a 100 per cent success rate on a resolution is to not have one.
Why resolutions fail
1. We treat ourselves too often to celebrations.
“Hey, I just said no to chocolate cake, let me finish this pack of Milds!”
“Hey, I spent the afternoon with my parents, let me go buy a new car!”
“Hey I enrolled for piano classes, let’s make my pet dog swallow my underwear and then get a cat!”
The fact is, we need more resolve in our resolution, and more ration in the celebration (I’m sorry, puns are way of life for me).
2. By definition, resolutions are made at the end of the previous year, not at the start of the following year. We loserly humans are just reacting to the shit we experienced through the year. What we should, instead, be doing, is deciding what we really want from life (there’s a list somewhere on Deepak Chopra’s tweets. It’s there. Don’t search for it, let it uncover you).
3. Lack of single-minded focus. Humans can do only one thing at a time. Except women. And jugglers. And wedding planners. Ok, never mind. My point is that to achieve a resolution, we need to “live” that resolution. No one, of course, has time for this. We’re too busy being stuck in traffic, tweeting about traffic, or canoodling on Marine Drive while tweeting about the traffic. If your mind’s not focused on your resolution, your chances of achieving the goal are as slim as Anushka Sharma’s forearms.
Here’s what I suggest.
Don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.
Just. Make. Resolutions.
Be a better person always, not just in 2013. Because Deepak Chopra will probably be writing your obituary, and he always speaks the language of gibberish.
The author is a stand-up comedian and co-founder of East India Co.medy. He loves tennis, women and telling people about his hobbies