For most of my 38 years on earth, I’ve never bothered with New Year’s resolutions. Who needs more reasons to feel like a failure? I have a long mental checklist of things I’d like to change, but if I spend too much time resolving to correct all my shortcomings, I just end up adding “doesn’t keep her word” to my catalogue of inadequacies. So, at the end of 2013, in the midst of one of the most challenging times of my life (loss of parents, end of a marriage, big college debt), I found myself craving the solace that a neatly written list of New Year’s resolutions offers.
I wanted a fresh start, looser pants, a boyfriend. I also knew that getting too ambitious would be the end of any progress I might make, and a juice fast or some “journaling” was not going to cut it. So I tried to make a different kind of New Year’s resolution. I asked myself, “What could you promise to do on a daily basis that would, without a doubt, make you happier?”
It didn’t take long to arrive at the answer. I vowed that every day, for 365 days, I would enforce a strict routine of belly laughter and orgasms. This goal seemed within reach, and had the added bonus of warding off my impending depression. I began January 1 with a hot bath and a visit to Funny or Die.
Some nights, when I’d hit the pillow, I’d force myself into a moment of ecstatic pleasure. Some days it would take a few wasted hours combing the internet for a joke or video that would inspire a proper crack-up. But it was working, and by February I was already noticeably happier.
In the summer I started dating someone and was tempted to lay off my daily routine. But we weren’t together every night, so I stuck to the plan and made myself come when he wasn’t around. As Thanksgiving approached, we’d ended things, and I’d fallen a few steps back in the happiness department. I doubled down, watched a lot of Louie, and bought a Jimmyjane Form 6.
For New Year’s, I’ve decided to go out with a bang to honor my accomplishment. I had a few invitations to parties, but tonight I will be staying in. I will wake up, come in bed, cook myself an omelette, watch a Gene Wilder comedy, come again, go to the gym, come again when I get home. I’ll take a nap, make myself a good dinner, watch Broad City, and take a bath where I come some more. I’ll go to bed tonight knowing that no matter what happened in 2014, I have the capacity to expand my happiness. One-handed, and one day at a time.