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January 04, 2009


Andrew Reeves

You know, there's a similar effect in campus gyms, but it tends to work by semester. In September and January, the gym is packed full of folks determined to get huge, but as people don't see instantaneous results or lose discipline, the numbers gradually drop until you arrive at December and May, which are great for lifting, since the gym is clear again.

There's definitely some cognitive reason for folks taking the beginning of a phase of life to try and re-orient, even if it usually comes to nothing. If I knew anything at all about psychology, I'd speculate as to what it is.


I know the point of the post was to be cynical, but I still think we ought to celebrate the fact that at least people make efforts to be nice to each other at some time of the year (even if it's entirely pretentious), and make some attempt at getting in shape (a few of which might actually end up sticking with it). Personally, I just tend to feel good around this time of the year also because it's close to my birthday.


I have nothing against people making efforts to be nice to each other: what I have a problem with is that they put so little effort into doing so on the other, putatively less "special" days of the year. I don't have much patience for Christian mumbo-jumbo, but if there's a kernel of worthwhile insight to be gleaned from the supposed sayings of some guy called Jesus, it is that what matters isn't how one behaves during high profile moments, but when others aren't paying much attention.

"Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. "

Now, the above doesn't apply directly to this situation, but the *mindset* certainly does, and if anything, my position is ethically superior: I don't even think one should need the idea of "reward" to motivate one to act in such a manner at all times.

Simply put, the very idea of setting aside a "special" time of year to do what one *ought* to do every day strikes me as the modern equivalent of the hypocrites blowing horns on street corners to publicize their alms giving: it's just empty theatrics devoid of sincere intent.

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