New Year’s Resolutions

T his is the best of times. This is the worst of times. We are at the brink of a biomedical revolution so powerful that it could overturn the future with the surprise and speed of a tsunami … for the betterment of the human race. At the same time, our government has decided, much to the world’s chagrin, that what is needed to rescue us from our economic malaise is more money. So it is running the printing presses full speed ahead, risking a blowout in the market for U.S. IOUs, and fueling the rising tide of price inflation and consequent economic deformation. From the perspective of those who are mindful of their health, the collision of these forces makes for an uncertain future. So it is the task of each of us to gain the greatest height from which to weather the full force of the storm.

At the beginning of a New Year, it is traditional to project one’s better self through a series of resolutions intended to avoid the mistakes of the past and in order to build a better soul. Aristotle begins his treatise on ethics by identifying the greatest good for humans, the highest aim of all human practical thinking.* He calls this eudaimonia, a Greek word meaning well-being or happiness. According to Aristotle, happiness is properly understood as an ongoing and stable dynamic, a way of acting (energeia) that is appropriate to the human soul (psuchē) at its most excellent (or virtuous) core. “Greatness of soul” is Aristotle’s moral ideal that requires the development of all the virtues of character. It personifies the noble soul or as Aristotle called it, Megalopsychia, the Great-Souled Being. Is that not what we strive to be through our resolutions and the ways that we live our lives?

* Aristotle, Ross WD, trans. Nicomachean Ethics. New York: WLC Books; 2009.

So for the sake of your future, and that of your loved ones, let me implore you to take care of yourself, your body, your mind, and your health in the New Year of 2011, and for many years thereafter. Build your resolutions on making yourself, as Arisotle would say, “morally beautiful.” The world will be a better place.

Live long and prosper,

Will Block

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