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Have you broken your resolutions yet?

As we welcome in a new year and a new decade, our thoughts invariably turn to resolutions. We seem to be energized with the conviction that this year we will keep the resolutions that we make, and perhaps even fulfill old ones. It is as though we are starting anew with a clean slate filled with determination to improve our health and perform good deeds.

For me personally, one resolution that I made 25 years ago was to stop smoking. Well, I'm happy and proud to say I haven't "lit up a butt" since January 1985.

Resolutions give us a sense of discipline, purpose and control. As we all know, there are the most obvious resolutions relating to our health: losing weight, developing better eating habits and exercising more. We are constantly bombarded through print and electronic media with diet, weight-loss programs, low-fat foods and countless offers to join health clubs.

With these thoughts in mind, what is a resolution? To quote the Oxford American Dictionary, the political definition is "a formal expression of opinion or intention by a legislative body or public meeting." A resolution in the context of this narrative is "a resolute temper or character, boldness and firmness of purpose." In other words, keeping your promise.

I'm not dismissing intentions made in good faith, but oftentimes we get caught up in the fervor and rhetoric of the advertisers. Let's be honest. How many Nordic Tracks and treadmills purchased in December and January become garage sale items in July and August? How many people who join weight-loss programs in January begin new weight-loss programs again in swimsuit season? How many low-fat, low-calorie recipes are buried in a darkened kitchen drawer? Our best intentions somehow seem to fall short of our well-intended goals.

While not abandoning those resolutions directly affecting my health and well being, I would like to propose some simple resolutions that, while trivial to some, not only enhance our quality of life but give us a "feel-good" demeanor. A bit of awareness and a small dose of thoughtfulness will make these resolutions much more attainable. Without any particular order of importance, I have pledged to do the following:

Take a moment to say a prayer for "our boys over there."

Be more patient and understanding with family members.

Ring the doorbell of an elderly neighbor.

Say hello to that familiar face you pass on the street or in the elevator.

Give the clerk in the supermarket the courtesy of turning off your cell phone in the checkout line.

When driving, give the pedestrian the right of way.

Reach out to a distant friend or relative with a letter or phone call (no e-mails please).

If you have a minor fender bender with a parked car, leave your name and phone number for the driver. He will be most grateful and more than surprised!

And while we're on the subject -- and having had my car been a victim of grocery cart dings -- I vow to return all shopping carts to the corrals and I hope you do the same.

So if my best intentions of losing weight, eating healthy and exercising fall by the wayside come April or May, I hope that the "beatitudes" I noted above sustain me through all of 2011.

In closing, I will share with you one of my resolutions for the new year. I resolve to engage more often in one of my passions, writing.

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Jim Williams, who lives in Buffalo, knows sometimes our best intentions fall well short of our goals.

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