Every year many of us make New Year’s Resolutions. And then, it is all too common to joke about how we “break” them. I have an idea how to avoid this scenario. No, it is not to avoid making resolutions, and it is not just to make a stronger promise; it is to understand the meaning of resolution.

Being a person interested in etymology, I looked it up resolution in Webster’s dictionary; well really on google, which led me to the definition in Websters. Do you remember those thick dictionaries? They still contain much knowledge. Words have multi-layers of meaning and sometimes extensive histories. So, here is the definition in long terms.

See what you can derive from it, and where I am going with this.


noun res·o·lu·tion | \ ˌre-zə-ˈlü-shən \

Definition of resolution

1: the act or process of resolving: such as

• a: the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones

• b: the act of answering : SOLVING

• c: the act of determining

• d: the passing of a voice part from a dissonant to a consonant tone or the progression of a chord from dissonance to consonance

• e: the separating of a chemical compound or mixture into its constituents

• f: (1): the division of a prosodic (study of metrical structure) element into its component parts (2): the substitution in Greek or Latin of two short syllables for a long syllable

• g: the analysis of a vector into two or more vectors of which it is the sum

2: the subsidence (subsiding) of a pathological state (such as inflammation)

3 a: something that is resolved; made a resolution to mend my ways

b: firmness of resolve

4: a formal expression of opinion, will, or intent voted by an official body or assembled group

5: the point in a literary work at which the chief dramatic complication is worked out

6: a: the process or capability of making distinguishable the individual parts of an object, closely adjacent optical images, or sources of light

b: a measure of the sharpness of an image or of the fineness with which a device (such as a video display, printer, or scanner) can produce or record such an image usually expressed as the total number or density of pixels in the image a resolution of 1200 dots per inch

Furthermore, if we study the history of the meaning of the word (etymology) we find an even deeper understanding;

in the words of The Etymology of “Resolution”, by Jess Zafarris:

“Resolution” is from the Latin solvere “to loosen, release, explain.” Its original meaning “a breaking into parts,” has remained as it developed the sense of solving a conflict, and of image detail. The term “New Year’s resolution” (1780s) drew from the “determined” sense of the word (“resolute”).

Resolution’s earliest 14th century definition drew from its direct Latin source resolutionem (perhaps via the Old French resolution), which meant “a process of reducing things into simpler forms,”… “unyoke, undo; explain; relax; set free; make void, dispel.

The word’s use in relation to New Year’s arose in the 1780s and suggested a firm plegde or decision to better oneself in the new year. As with many holiday traditions, New Year’s resolutions are rooted in religion.

• Babylonians were thought to be some of the first to make such resolutions, making promises to the gods to return borrowed objects and pay debts at the start of each year.

• Drawing from this earlier tradition, Romans also made promises to the two-faced god Janus, namesake of the month January. The Roman practice is the most similar source of our contemporary practice of setting resolutions in the new year.

• The earliest New Year’s resolutions in English-speaking cultures tended to be rooted in piety and religious promises.

• During the Medieval Era, there was yet another New Years-resolution tradition, known as the Vow of the Peacock… Charles Dickens wrote about the Vow of the Peacock, explaining that peacocks represented “by the splendour and variety of their colours, the majesty of kings during the middle ages”—and were thought to be “the peculiar diet of valiant knights and heart-stricken lovers.” Therefore, in the new year, a great feast was held with a roasted peacock as its centerpiece. Each knight would make a vow of chivalry to the bird.

So, where does all this information lead us? I would like to suggest that is isn’t just about a pledge to “do good” or to “be better.” Yes, you may want to lose weight, quit smoking, give up addictions, purify your way of relating, deepen your commitments, spruce up your habits, and change your ways, …but does that happen just through making the “vow?”

If we think of the word resolution as a “process of resolving”, “the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones,” a “dramatic complication worked out, “ and lastly for you musicians out there…“dissonance to consonance,” you might notice that it seems to suggest a deeper understanding.

Perhaps it implies a therapeutic analysis, a deep mindful exploration, even an insightful exploration into the why as much as the how. Concerning most obstacles in life, I believe our soulful journey is revealed by repetitive challenges that are waiting for (may I say) resolution!

What is the meaning of this? is one of my favorite questions. If you were the hero or heroine in a novel about your life, what would the protagonist’s quest be…and how would it be resolved? No doubt it would take more than just a hasty promise.

So, if you really want to make a New Years Resolution stick, allow yourself a deeper introspection, more contemplative time, an easy compassion for your well-being, and a chance to widen your perspective. Be very patient, and do not abandon yourself! Seek others on the journey and share your insights and vulnerability. Find creative ways to understand yourself.

Whatever way you do that, enjoy the process. Savor the practice and see what arises. Give the passage of time the opportunity to heal all wounds.

It just might result in a positive easy change of ways. Then your New Year’s Resolution might even last all year!

I am wishing you a healthy, peaceful, joyful, insightful, and very Happy New Year.


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Meredith Zelman-Narissi

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Welcome to Meredith’s Healing Arts…Enlightened Wellness. Meredith Zelman Narissi, M.S., BCPP. Is a Board-Certified Polarity Therapist, Presenter/ Dancer/Meditation/Yoga Instructor, and…

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