Posted by: deadmousediaries | January 12, 2010

Subtracting My Way Into the New Year – a resolution from Mitchell Kyd


Choose happiness. It’s simple, memorable, actionable and the one New Year’s resolution that has been on my carryover list for the past 12 years. And I’m getting better at it. Maybe it’s because I’m older and wiser or maybe it’s just because my brain is full and has no more storage but this year it occurred to me that subtraction might be the key to more happiness in 2010.

   For starters, I’ve decided to subtract some words from my vocabulary. Excommunicated now are: “diet”, “should” and “maybe.” “Diet” instantly implies pain, deprivation, frustration and in most cases, some advanced level of math skills. This year, I’m following Miss Piggy’s advice: “Never eat more than you can lift.” I think that might produce a nice result: feeling better. That’s good for at least 15 pounds off my load in 2010.

   I once attended a business seminar where the speaker suggested we make an addition to the list of thou-shalt-nots. “Thou shalt not should on thyself,” she admonished. In addition to stopping listeners dead in their tracks, that phrase reminded us that control and ownership of nearly every situation that affects us is right where it belongs: in our own hands. I make choices– actively or by deciding not to choose–but none of it has to carry the extra guilt of “should.”

   “Should” is an auxiliary verb that inflicts some form of condition on the active verb that follows it. But what are the conditions? We all know that if a brain is left to run amok without proper supervision, it always defaults to the worst case scenario, especially if there’s a chance we can punish ourselves for something left undone. I have an over-active imagination as it is so I can conjure up some pretty remote possibilities where guilt is concerned and my mental images of the ensuing repercussions can get quite elaborate. Who needs more imaginary baggage? I’m not sure how we calculate what it means to be “weighed down by guilt” but I’m counting on lightening my load another five pounds by doing what I choose to do, not what I should in 2010.

   More than 30 years ago, a wrinkled, hirsute alien in dire need of a pedicure taught us: “Do or do not; there is no try.” Thank you, Yoda. I’ve come to understand that same principle applies to the concept of “maybe.” Why bother saying it? “Maybe” is just a way of saying “not bloody likely but I don’t have the guts to say that now.” It just postpones the inevitable.It continues to loom on the to-do list and takes up space in my mental organizer. The business gurus all tell us that if you want to get more done and cut down on clutter, handle all your paperwork only once. “Maybe” is a life-sucking inbox; in 2010, I’m working on do-or-do-not right from the start.

   It’s a wonderful irony that my subtraction-into-happiness list gets longer every day. It’s more than just semantics. In addition to erasing some stubborn components of my own rhetoric, I’m dis-including some very tangible things as well. You’ll get the running commentary in the future installments on this site as I work my way down the list. Catalogs, superstores, television news, fear of failure, press one for English, grumps, and bad customer service are all going out of vogue in my Happy New Year.

Copyright 2010. Mitchell Kyd. All rights reserved.



  1. I love it, love it, love it. What a lovely place to start. Someone once told me that the word “should” should be eliminated from the nglish language as it implies defeat. Yours is a much more amusing way of saying that. Thank you again Yvonne for brightening our days.


  2. Great post! I’ve just adopted your list as mine. You articulate so well the thoughts that bounce around unorganized in my head. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for the inspiration; whether I act upon it is another issue. . . I certainly know I “should”. . . oops. .

  4. Again thank you for the inspiration that you have instilled once again. I think I will try to eliminate the “should” this year as well.
    Happy New Year! and Happy New Beginnings!

  5. I’ve been fighting the should’sfor years – thanks for the new ammunition!

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