Friday, December 26, 2014

Strange Loop

A 2007 study showed that a staggering 88% of people who set New Year's Resolutions fail. That means when you start your diet, commit to stop smoking, or vow to finally organize that closet, inevitably you're just going to wind up back in bed with my ex-boyfriend.

In theory, we would be constantly improving our New Year's Resolution making abilities. Each year's respective successes and failures should build on the proceedings year's experience until we've amassed a giant bank of New Year's Resolution wisdom and insight. Instead, January 1st slinks by like a guilty ex-boyfriend trying to sneak out of my apartment unnoticed, but for the unmistakable sense of déjà vu left behind.

A 12% success
rate is a pretty poor showing. To put that in perspective, 12% is the same ranking Batman and Robin received on Rotten Tomatoes. Why do we struggle to maintain our Resolutions each year? And if doing so only sets ourselves up for failure, why do we make them at all? Like the old saying goes: watch Megashark versus Crocosaurus once, shame on Netflix, watch Megashark versus Crocosaurus twice, shame on you.

strange loop is a phenomenon in which, whenever movement is made upwards or downwards through the levels of some hierarchical system, the system unexpectedly arrives back where it started

Just when it seems like we're all trapped in a fruitless, unending cycle of self-defeat, just when it seems like we're 
all trapped in a fruitless, unending cycle of self-defeat, just when it seems like we're all trapped in a fruitless, unending cycle of self-defeat—the Greek philosopher Heraclitus reminds us that "you could not step twice into the same river." Because the river is continually flowing, it's no longer the same river you'd stepped into before. Likewise one's self is similarly evolving, so you're no longer the same person who'd previously done the stepping.

As we work our ways through the levels of our respective hierarchical systems each year, it's important to remember that. Despite our failures, despite our setbacks
—New Year's and otherwise—none of our attempts at self-improvement, self-reflection, self-understanding, are in vain. That effort alone makes it impossible for any of us to truly find ourselves back where we started.

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