Intentions vs Resolutions

I know — I’ve been writing a lot about words and how we use them.  As humans, one of our defining characteristics IS our ability to speak, and how we use language to convey meaning and influence others.  Consider people like Gandhi, or even Hitler, and what they did with words.  And that’s not even touching on the trillions of authors and speakers who have shared wonderful and horrific ideas through words.  When I was a child I discovered the Oxford English Dictionary; I spent hours in the library reading about words, their meanings and where they came from. 

It being a new year, I have been considering intentions versus resolutions.  Most everyone I know dislikes resolutions.  You make them at the beginning of the year, and 30% of people have broken them by the end of January.  Resolutions are so firm and unyielding.

Resolution:  noun 1a firm decision to do or not to do something 1b a formal expression of opinion or intention agreed on by a legislative body or other formal meeting, typically after taking a vote  2 [mass noun] the quality of being determined or resolute  3 [mass noun] the action of solving a problem or contentious matter  4 Music the passing of a discord into a concord during the course of changing harmony 5 Medicine the disappearance of a symptom or condition.

Resolutions are pretty firm.   The word reminds me of Yoda’s comment, “Do or do not.  There is no try.”

Consider the word “intention:” noun 1a thing intended; an aim or plan  1b [mass noun] the action or fact of intending  1c (someone’s intentions) a person’s plans, especially a man’s, in respect to marriage 2 Medicine the healing process of a wound. 3 (intentions) Logic conceptions formed by directing the mind towards an object.

This one has more possibility of change, perhaps.  One of my mom’s sayings was, The road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Suggesting that intentions mean nothing, it is what you do that counts.  Makes sense to me.  However, that line of reasoning also brings to mind the movie “Dogma.”    One of the characters talks about how wars and other unpleasant things happen because people believe in a dogma so strongly,  they are willing to kill (or die) for it.  Whereas ideas invite listening, and discussion, and maybe reaching a place of agreement.  Maybe the other person will change their mind, maybe you will, but as long as there is discussion there is always the possibility of improvement without people getting killed.

Maybe success in change means leaving room for flexibility.  Crazy Aunt Purl recently wrote about all the walking she does, and pointed out that last January she didn’t do any.  Now she walks 5-7 miles every day.  If she had given up last January because she did not keep a resolution, that might never have happened.  But she kept the intention alive, and eventually it bore fruit. 

So this year I am setting intentions.  Am hoping the lack of guilt (versus the guilt that seems to cling to resolutions) will lead to success.   Will see . . . .      🙂


About judithornot

Lives in semi-rural Northern California, happily married, retired counselor, night person, knits, plays WoW.
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