Nichole Davilia- Sanchez, ‘Doah Staff Writer
January 21, 2015
It’s a new year, and with it, a new semester starts. As you start your classes and get used to the new routine, the back of your mind has small voice reminding you of a promise you made in the chaos of noise-makers and rowdy people. Whether that promise was getting fit, excommunicating TV and video games from your life during the semester, eating less fast food or traveling to New Zealand to visit the production sites used in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films; we have all been there at some point in our lives. Many times, people just ignore that part of themselves, labeling it as the old nag and killjoy of our lives, and yet months later when the New Year has become old, we lament not listening to that old nag.
This vicious cycle has become a regular way of thinking, but why? Evolutionarily, we are inclined to do the thing that makes us happy whether that be taking drugs, choosing not to do assignments or skipping work in favor of going to the bar with some friends. Every time we give into the urge to do something that makes us feel good, our brain releases dopamine that makes us feel great and through Pavlov’s associative learning that dopamine give us a positive association with certain actions making us more likely to do them again. The rational part of our brain has only recently developed within approximately the past million years, so its message is not the strongest voice in our minds.
So the question you may be asking yourself is: how can we fight evolution if we are programed to say no to homework? In a study published by the University of Albany in 2011, it was found that self-control was a practiced skill. They asked 122 smokers to practice self-control for two weeks by doing things like saying no to chocolate, and researchers theorized that the more the smokers did confidence-building tasks that also increased their awareness of self control, the more likely they were to be able to quit smoking. At the end of two weeks, the people who practiced self-control regularly did not smoke as much. It may not seem like much, but like the old saying goes, old habits are a hard thing to break.
How can we make the seemingly impossible become possible? Well, first don’t promise yourself to lose 60 pounds in three months. You want to set some small goals, which will most likely resemble the trail markers of the Appalachian trail, but at least you won’t get lost so easily. Say you want a new heater for your room, you may think you have two options: spending a large amount of money at once or suffering from cold. Make a third option, which in this case could be layaway. It would take a while, but at least you won’t have to choose between your comfort and your financial obligations.
A common New Year’s resolution is to exercise more. As students and working people in a fast paced world, we find our time disappearing before we realize what is happening. However, there are five-minute workout videos on YouTube that you can do each day before your daily routine, and before you know it with you running to classes and work plus some your video for the day, you’re fit. Another thing you can do is get some friends together with one of them dressed in padded battle gear to practice self-defense. New Year’s resolutions don’t have to huge insurmountable walls; they just have to be stars you can reach, even if those stars turn out to be fireflies.