How Asians Make New Year’s Resolutions
By Bea Mahmood
The New Year often begins with the declaration of self-righteous clichés such as ‘new year, new you!’ and ‘time for new beginnings!’ or just about any play on the words ‘new’ and ‘year’. These disturbingly positive and idealistic phrases are then transmogrified into firm decisions to curb bad habits – which are also known as New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions are made in the vain hope that over the eight-hour-night’s sleep between December 31st 2013 and January 1st 2014, you’ll awake a perfect version of yourself – as if by magic.
While everybody likes to think they’re as unique as their own fingerprints, unsurprisingly our resolutions are actually pretty similar. We all strive to achieve the same goals in life and have similar visions of what the perfect version of ourselves should be. And honestly, Asians are no different. I have identified a few of the most common New Year’s Resolutions and how they have become distinctly Asian-fied:
1. Eat healthily
This is easily the most common New Year’s Resolution. It’s the first thing you think of when you’ve spent the entire Christmas period gorging on the chocolate tree decorations and having eaten turkey-mayo sandwiches for an entire week. While I don’t see my salwar-kameez-clad Chachoo gobble anything turkey-related, I have seen him voraciously devour a pan of chicken salaan with four rotis to boot. This year, his resolution is to drop down to two chapattis and drain the oil from the curry rather than sopping it up with a piece of naan to make mastication easier.
2. Save more money
Okay so maybe you shouldn’t have splurged and got that gold iPhone for yourself for Christmas. I’m sure you can justify that you deserved it but don’t deny it was a blow to your wallet. This particular resolution doesn’t really apply to Asians. We kind of have parsimony on a lock. If you want lessons on how to be economical, I strongly advise you go to my Nano. She can sniff out a bargain quicker than a dog on a drug raid. Whether it’s buying second-hand toilet seats or preserving stale biscuits from 1974, budgeting is never an issue. Sign up to Frugality 101 for all her special tips on how to be economical.
3. Become a better person and stop judging others
So it might be time to take a self-reflective look at yourself and realise that when you point a finger at someone, there are three pointing back at you. I’m sure my Khalla will tell you that there are moments where you need to focus on yourself rather than others. Except of course, Mrs Hussain’s son. He smokes like a chimney. And there are rumours that he’s been seen with about half the girls from the community. My Khalla thinks that university ruined him because that’s where he learned these ‘modern’ ways. Anyway, sanu ki?
4. Quit Smoking
Yes smoking is stress relieving and it helps digest your food but really, it’s incredibly unhealthy. If the threat of various cancers isn’t enough to make you stop, it also encourages bad breath and stained teeth. And I’m afraid we’re going to have to include shisha in this. I’m sure you’ve heard the warnings floating around Facebook ‘one session of shisha is equivalent to 20 cigarettes!’ . Both activities only do damage so this year, try giving up or at the very least try cutting down. Or you can just do what my uncle does and just smoke whenever someone buys him cheap cigarettes from duty free.
Whatever your cultural background, New Year’s resolutions isn’t necessarily the best way to start a new year. The splurge of motivation in January usually dissipates by February and to be honest, by March you’ll have forgotten all about them. Rather than resolutions, I think reflections work better. Look at your successes and try and emulate them in the year ahead. It’s much more motivating.