With every New Year comes the question of resolutions, which in my observation is often met with a reply of disdain and dismissal whenever I ask someone, “do you make resolutions?” I think the reason for this rejection is it represents another opportunity for failure. Why make a promise to do something if you know in your heart that you really won’t do anything about it?

I don’t have any statistics, but as a betting man, I would wager that most failed New Year’s Resolutions have something to do with exercise and weight loss. Funny how these two things will get mentioned by even the fittest of my friends. When the Distance Runner tells me he wants to shed a few pounds, I figure it’s just universal.

I know many of you don’t, but I do. I actually look forward to starting a new year with a clean sheet of paper and a chance to write out a list of improvements I’d like to make. Let me tell you what’s at the top of my list:

Take my pleasure much more seriously.

It’s a simple point I like to maintain, and it has to do with the fact that I am not that committed to experiencing pleasure in its most significant way.

But you might ask, “Isn’t this why I’m overweight? Because I eat too much, I drink too much, I lay on the couch too much, I’d rather watch movies than exercise…?” No, I would say we are all those things because we don’t take our own personal pleasure seriously enough.

Eating is one of our most basic, fundamental needs. It is on the low end of Maslow’s triangle. Without food, we don’t survive. We must eat to live, but in an age of abundance, our understanding of eating moves up the diagram.

The pace of our culture has kept the practice of eating on a less sophisticated level, treating it more as an act of refilling the fuel tank or reenergizing the batteries. Why else is the drive-thru such a popular feature in our modern American food traditions. You are in a hurry, the kids are hungry, you are hungry, so pull the car into a place that can quiet the pangs.

In this way, we eat for relief, not satisfaction.

In fact, I believe our problem with pleasure is that most of the time we pursue it in order to bring some type of relief, and not in a quest for a satisfying experience.

Does that second helping really satisfy? How about that gargantuan portion that you know you shouldn’t finish? Is that third and fourth glass of wine about honoring beauty or creating numbness? Are you including that hangover the next morning as a part of the overall glory of pleasure?

Pleasure for the sake of satisfaction takes into account all the potential side effects that accompany the act. Relief is only concerned with feeling better right now.

Maybe that’s why Mick couldn’t find any.

Starting the New Year Right