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Make Your Resolutions The Babylonian Way

This New Year, instead of focusing on how to improve yourself going forward, why not think about settling up.

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DO THE RIGHT THING | The stats don’t lie. According to resolution research conducted by noted psychology professor Richard Wiseman at the University of Bristol, in England, 78 percent of those he sampled who made New Year’s resolutions failed to achieve their objective.

When the overall success rate is this dismally low, resolution making begins to feel like a whole lot of why-bother—though maybe it wouldn’t if we began the new year the way Babylonians did back in their day.

Do It Like They Did In Old Babylon

The Babylonians, who are widely credited with introducing the world to New Year’s resolutions a few thousand years ago, liked to start the new year not by thinking about how they might improve themselves going forward, which is the number one way we approach resolutions today, but by settling up.

Their idea was to payback a debt; return a kindness; right a niggling wrong—to start the new year with a clean slate and a good conscience by rectifying something quantifiable associated with the past, not by making a nebulous plan to change something in the future. Those darn Babylonians were on to something. It’s hard to imagine they had a 78 percent resolution failure rate. —Ruth Rainey

Photo: iStock

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