Thoughts for the New Year

Thoughts for the New Year

With the New Year upon us, the time has come once again to evaluate our lives and think about those things we would like to improve in the coming year. Like most American families, my household gathers around the fire on New Year’s Eve to write our list of resolutions. This year, however, we’ll be doing things a little differently.

My family loves to watch old Jimmy Stewart movies. In fact, we have one for just about each holiday! For New Year we like to watch an old classic called “You Can’t Take It With You.” Last night when we watched the film I was struck by a poignant comment made by the sage, though fun-loving Grandpa. While rocking in his chair he stated that: “These days everyone has an ‘ism’. When times get tough, everyone goes out and gets themselves an ‘ism’.”

These days, little has changed from when that old black-and-white beauty was filmed. Everyone has an ism that they feel defines them. The problem with ism’s though is that an ism is just a label, and they tend to be extreme. Think about the difference between veganism and cannibalism. Pretty drastic. What about pacifism and Nazism. No, we’re not going to talk about politics. My point is that people like to label themselves with ism’s because it gives them a neat little box to live in.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all ism’s are bad, I’m just saying we should look at why we think we need one. Is it because you truly believe in something, or because you’re hiding in a box? The problem with boxes is, while they might feel cozy and safe, they’re also limiting. For example, someone who practices veganism gets limited by the thought that they can’t eat meat. Can’t or don’t want to?

Ism’s tend to dictate our actions and plan our lives for us by telling us, “Thou shall and thou shalt not.” But as we go into the New Year, we should all become more conscious about what we choose to do. Everything in life is a choice, and until we recognize this, our own personal ism’s are going to be running the show while we just hold on for dear life. Personally, that doesn’t sound like much fun.

This year, rather than settle back into our comfortable ism’s, we should think about the power of our own free will. When you get tempted to eat that whole pack of Oreo’s (cause heck, it’s a holiday), you have the choice to do that, or not. When you are tempted to skip going to the gym (because, well, I just don’t feel up to it today), you have the choice to wimp out, or not.

No matter how much we would like to claim otherwise, we are never a victim of our own choices. “But I just can’t control myself, I ate one Oreo and pretty soon the whole pack was gone, it’s not my fault!” Sorry, but that’s just a cop out. We all have the choice to choose whether or not to take control of our lives. If we choose not to take control, our lives will live us.

All in all, we should think about a few big questions this New Year: Are you living your life, or is your life living you? Are you resting on a big, fluffy ism, or are you taking control of your own life?

Remember, it takes courage to be happy and live the life you want to live, the way you choose to live it. This year, resolve to be courageous.


Author: Dr. Chris Knutson, ND

Dr. Chris Knutson, ND, entered the natural health field after being cured of chronic Lyme Disease by an Australian Naturopath. He holds degrees as a Doctor of Naturopathy, Master Herbalist and Certified Nutritional Counselor. He currently works as a Nutrition and Wellness Coordinator with Fresh and Natural Foods.