Trying not to spin out at the year’s turning point |

Trying not to spin out at the year’s turning point

Susan Paslov, for the Appeal

Will we be greeting a new century and a new millennium with the “Law of Contrary Results?”

I feel charged to write about the millennium because of the date my column will appear, only two days before this incredible moment in time!

It seems that there is some subtle pressure (or not so subtle) to treat the millennium as a turning point in our lives, or at least to make some major improvements in how things are going. Unfortunately, the results we seek can be hard to come by, and our resistance to doing better (ie, our contrariness) can sometimes lead to just the opposite outcome! This is the little known “law of contrary results.”

Personally speaking, I don’t do particularly well at turning points. If I make a list of New Year’s resolutions, I soon feel overwhelmed by my list of shoulds and, at best, promptly begin to fudge on nearly every resolution. At worst, I’m likely to overindulge forbidden behaviors. Certainly, a prime example would be eating chocolate cake. For me, there are no words eloquent enough to properly describe this delicacy! If I tell myself that chocolate is “verboten” for me, you’ll find me visiting the nearest grocery store within a few hours, scouting out their bakery. Any resolution about chocolate cake is bound to bring contrary and fattening results!

If one visits a health club at the new year, one will likely find crowds of new members, clad in fashionable new workout gear and straining mightily to work off unwanted pounds. The “New Years resolutioners” are hard at it crafting more shapely silhouettes. Sidewalks are replete with “power walkers,” out to not only slim down, but to also lift their spirits in these unseasonably warm days.

The smokers among us are very aware that quitting is a great step to take if they want better odds on living a few years into the new millennium. Then again, some of us might imbibe in alcoholic beverages too much; we’re thinking seriously of making the new millennium our turning point in cutting down on this unhealthy habit. Perhaps we want to cut down on the time we spend in front of the TV. We are told, after all, that spending too much time watching TV can foster a feeling of depression and is dulling to the mind. How about sharpening and broadening our minds with a challenging reading list that includes some of the great classics, such as the Iliad and Catcher in the Rye?

Could we be nicer to other members of our family, and to our neighbors and our colleagues in the workplace? Could we explore the concept of “tithing” which is an exciting way to learn that “money is energy,” and that the more money and time we give away to that which nourishes us spiritually, the more wealth and good comes back to us?

How about learning to do things differently, right down to putting on a different sock or shoe first? This could help us see our world differently and be open to more possibilities for our lives.

Most of us want to be better people. At such a special time as this, the beginning of a new millennium, it is natural to list ways we’d like to improve ourselves. But, if you’re like me, your efforts to be good can bring on the law of contrary results. How do I “break” this frustrating law? I don’t give so much weight to one particular date, and I don’t hate myself if I transgress. I try to love the way I am, and still try to grow in small ways, day by day. This seems to suit the very fallible person that I am, and take the punch out of the “law.”

So, at the beginning of the new millennium, I’ll still be plodding along in my very human way. I’ll avoid setting hard and fast resolutions, to stymie the law of contrary results. Barring a miracle, I’ll still wrestle with the same strengths and weaknesses, and that will be OK. I’ll be excited to be entering a whole new thousand years, but aware that it’s unlikely that I’ll be totally perfect as I live in them. And so it will be.

Susan Paslov is a retired attorney who teaches English as a Second Language. She is married, with three children and one grandchild.