It is the end of a decade, a new year. Time to make our perfunctory resolution—if only to have a bit of small talk in our pockets: a bit of conversation to temporarily supersede the enrapturing excitement of people’s minor health problems and the chaos wrought by three inches of snow. Most will commit to losing weight, quitting smoking, or some-such thing. All are sure to fail.
Each year we choose one paltry point on which to improve our sorry selves, and not a one of us achieves it. It is a terrible phenomenon—overwhelming evidence that none of us has even rudimentary command of ourselves. Mountebanks have made a pretty penny selling us magic bullets to repair the faults of our mind. A real bullet has a better chance.
To achieve anything of worth one must apply both intelligence and determination—those satisfied with their allotment of these two virtues are suffering from the world’s most popular delusion. If instead you find yourself desperately lacking in both, take heart, for this is evidence that you have been gifted at least a paltry sum of the first quality.
One can only improve with practice, yet how does one practice intelligence or determination? In fact, these seemingly inborn advantages are eminently learnable. My advice is to begin by abandoning New Years resolutions; one does not become an Olympic weightlifter by trying to heave a 500lb. barbell on the first day of each new year.