Let’s write New Year’s resolutions—for each other

Also, a must-read article about Sashiko

Melissa Kirsch, writer at The New York Times wrote, “One of my favorite New Year’s traditions is writing resolutions for other people. Tonight, if you’re with a group of friends or loved ones, hand out slips of paper and instruct the assembled to write a resolution for the new year. Put the papers in a hat, pass the hat, everyone draws one. The resolutions can be whimsical or reflective. They can be things the author would like to resolve themselves or things they think would be good for others to try” (NYT, December 31, 2022).

Here are some resolutions Kirsch read from others:

  • In your closet and your life, subtract whenever you add.
  • Stop and recognize happy moments when you’re in the middle of them. Literally stop and say out loud, “This is a happy time.”
  • You don’t have to identify with your feelings.
  • Realize that everyone is going through something.
  • Remind yourself that your track record for getting through bad days is 100 percent, and that’s pretty good.
  • Put 10 pennies in your left pocket. Find something for which you are grateful and move one penny to your right pocket. You should find all pennies have moved to the right pocket at the end of the day.

I enjoy Kirsch’s idea about writing resolutions for other people. We all want to give advice to others, why not legitimize the urge and turn it into a game, and reciprocate by receiving life-enhancing suggestions from others?

Let’s do this together. I’ll recommend a resolution for you to adopt and you (by responding to this post) recommend something I and my readers could benefit from. 

My 2023 New Year’s resolution for you is: Proactively develop healthy, intimate relationships. 

I’ll start with this factoid: For over 80 years, researchers at Harvard have studied what makes for a good life. They have found one surefire, scientifically proven predictor of happiness: developing warmer relationships. That’s it: Proactively develop healthy and more intimate relationships.

One of the most intriguing verses in the Bible is Genesis 2:18: “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him’” (NLT). In the process of creating the universe, God had said “it is good” six times, but here he says something is not good, and that should get our attention.

Adam had already been created and lived in a perfect environment free from sin, disease, and death. Adam also enjoyed an intimate relationship with God. And yet God said that something was missing; there was something not good about Adam’s condition. The problem is identified and solved when God creates another human, Eve, to be with Adam.

Evidently, we are created with a need to relate intimately with other humans. It is a God-given need. You and I will never be happy and fulfilled unless we have an intimate relationship, not just with God, but also with others.

The first step is to take the initiative. Don’t wait for someone else to approach you about developing a friendship; make the first move. Identify someone that you think you would enjoy getting to know and invite them to lunch, or agree to talk weekly. Developing good friendships is not complicated but it takes initiative.

Years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to make 52 new friends in the coming year. I worked hard at it and 12 months later I had 42 new friends. Perhaps a more reasonable goal would be to make one new friend a month during 2023.

That’s my goal for you. Click the “respond” link and suggest a resolution for me and your fellow readers to pursue.

Here’s an article that is good from beginning to end. Well written by Melanie McGrath, it explains the Japanese art of Sashiko and how it can enhance Western culture. Could the art of “sashimi” help mend our frayed world?

Minority Rule—insisting on unanimous consent is often unnecessary and even detrimental

Cartoonstock.com: Board meeting where chairman is manually lifting everyone's hand with ropes and saying, "Excellent—It's unanimous!"

Years ago I served a church that was searching for a senior pastor. Eleven people were on the search committee. In their first meeting, someone must have suggested that their final decision be unanimous—to call a new pastor, all eleven members must be in agreement. (A scripture verse might have been used to support this position, “That they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you” (John 17:21).

After months of prayer, and multiple interviews, ten members of the committee were convinced that one particular candidate was the right person for the job. One person dissented. Because of their commitment to act unanimously, the will of one person prevailed over the preference of ten people. It happened again; the same person dissenting overruled the will of the vast majority.

This predicament is called minority rule and it’s an unwise practice.

Every team or committee should be composed of vigorous-thinking individuals who are striving to make good decisions. Everyone should have a voice and a vote, but one person should not be given the power to overrule the opinion of others. It might be reasonable to say that 70% of the group must be in agreement, but to set the bar at 100% is unnecessary and can be detrimental. There’s nothing wrong with a split decision. 

A split decision may even validate that the right decision was made because it implies that critical dialogue was pursued and multiple perspectives were considered. While a unanimous decision may indicate that the decision is simple and the best answer is obvious, or that everyone genuinely agrees, it can also indicate that the group is not taking the decision seriously, all variables have not been explored, or that some members may be intimidated by the arguments of those who are more demonstrative and verbal.

What do you think?

Critique and argument are keys to progress

How are things made better? What are the forces that can improve products, services, systems, and ideas? Critique and argument are indispensable.

Most of us are uncomfortable offering critique and/or arguing. It’s easy and pleasant to praise, encourage, and agree with others, but it’s difficult to critique and challenge. Similarly, we enjoy hearing words of commendation but we bristle at phrases that suggest we should do things differently. We like it when people agree with us and affirm our thoughts, but when they push back and disagree we are put-off.   

But critique and argument are indispensable for progress. The key thing to remember is that feedback is a gift so critique and argument should be received (even solicited) and considered positive. 


Verb—to evaluate (a theory or practice) in a detailed and analytical way

Noun—a detailed analysis and assessment of something

I avoid using the words criticize and criticism because they sound harsh and oppositional, whereas critique is a softer, more helpful approach. 

Everything—a Broadway show, a new model of car, software, a new hire, work done, performance—is improved by intentional and systematic critique from multiple sources. Feedback is a gift, and critical feedback is especially useful.

My friend Allen is professor of choral studies at a major university. When coaching his conducting students, in addition to praising them for what they are doing well, he must tell them what they are doing wrong. If he doesn’t, they will think all they are doing is satisfactory. It would be counterproductive for him to praise something that needs to change.


Noun: a reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong

Verb (argue): to exchange or express diverging or opposing views

Argument helps us clarify our thoughts and articulate them accurately, and we consider the ideas of others in a respectful and critical manner. 

(By the way, political debates are not good examples of the benefits of argument. When politicians “debate” all they’re basically saying is, “You’re wrong and I’m not.” There’s seldom any thoughtful discourse about real issues.)

Here’s a good article on the benefits of arguing.

In your family, at work, among friends…is it acceptable to critique one another? Is arguing allowed, even valued? The answer to both questions should be yes.

What do you think?

2023 Travel with Friends trip to the British Isles

Click below for brochure

For the past 11 years I’ve led groups of friends on annual trips. We’ve travelled to Paris, London, Rome, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, western Europe, the Mediterranean, Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Amsterdam, Russia, Peru, Greek Isles, and North Africa. We’ve never had a malfunction or bad experience, just memorable, life-enhancing moments.

I’m happy to announce the Travel with Friends trip for 2023 – 16 day trip to the British Isles.

Aboard the beautiful 5-star Regal Princess ship, we’ll circumnavigate the British Isles, visiting the highlights of England, Ireland, and Scotland.

Have you ever longed to see:

  • Stonehenge – the prehistoric monument on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England
  • Beaches of Normandy – where the D-Day invasion began
  • Paris – Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Belfast, Ireland – Giant’s Causeway, Belfast Highlands
  • Cork, Ireland – Blarney Castle, Waterford Crystal
  • Glasgow, Scotland – Inveraray Castle and Scottish Highlands
  • London – Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, British Museum, National Gallery
  • Invergorden, Scotland – is there really a Loc Ness monster?
  • Newcastle, England – Bamburg Castle, Hadrian’s Wall

The trip, limited to 40 guests, will be life-enhancing.

Here’s the brochure with details.

If you want more information, I’m hosting two information meetings on Zoom January 21 &28 from 7:00-8:00pm .  If you’re interested in participating contact me at [email protected] . Or email me with any questions you have.