As resolutions face reality we struggle to stay right

Duane Dailey

After a week of facing reality over resolution, I’m thinking more about resolutions. Fact is that reality wins, no matter our resolve. However, only we control our own attitudes. We can gripe and complain. Or, we can cope and sustain. We control the smile on our face. That’s about it.

We also control our own helping hand. Using that more freely might be beneficial. No matter how low we go, there are those lower. A hand can help.

I jumped out early with my resolutions: Maintain and sustain. Those still hold. It fact they come first if I’m to do anything.

Newspapers I read this week helped my outlook. I read a lot laid up housebound with the worst microbe I’ve met in years. As my gift to humankind, I refrain from going to work or mingling in crowds. This may be the only case when selfish benefits all. It’s not the season for that kind of sharing.

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, I felt better reading the words of Chief Justice John Roberts. He spoke at the graduation of his son’s ninth-grade class. He hoped the class learned the value of justice, the importance of loyalty, and the need to listen to others.

I’d thought of a column on the latter. In my world, I find more advice givers than advice takers. I’d ask: “Is listening a lost art?” In journalism, listening is the first art. Writing comes after that.

The lollapalooza advice from the Chief Justice I want to take. I should amend my resolution list.

Consider this: “Once a week you should write a note to someone. Not an e-mail. A note on a piece of paper. It will take you 10 minutes.” Then he advised put the note in an envelope and send it the old fashioned way: via U.S. Mail.

If you do that once a week for even 10 months, 40 people will feel special. And they will think you are special.

That’s the best commencement advice I’ve heard.

The journalist asked the judge if he followed his own advice. The judge replied: “Advice is one of those things that is easier to give than receive.”

The mail box awaits for all of us.

I learned long ago that a kind word holds great value. Yet, I remain too stingy.

Also, from the Wall St. Journal, I drew ideas from columnist Jason Zweig, the weekend investor. He advises: Learn something new every day. Learn something surprising every week. Learn something shocking once a month.

That’s a path to education. Learning should never end.

Zweig lays out lots of hot tips. I could add any and all to my resolutions and be a better person. I’ll take these: Say, “I don’t know.” That disqualifies you from politics, but makes you better.

Also: Own your mistakes. Lend your success. Call your mom. Work at what’s hard, not easy. Show don’t tell. Teach don’t preach. Eat more crow. Tweet less, read more. Talk less, listen more. Say more; use fewer words.

Then he gets down to the “Missouri Method” of journalism: “Check your facts, again. There’s a mistake in there somewhere.”

Finally, I clipped a column from Pat Westhoff, head of the MU Food and 

Agricultural Policy Research Institute. I spent years making that awkward acronym FAPRI famous.

Far as I know, Mizzou still has the best economic models of the world agriculture than anybody. They just got back from a Washington, D.C., meeting of world economists.

Commodity prices and farm policy have been relatively calm for two years. They expect the same for two more years.

I learned in writing outlooks, however: It depends. Will the sun shine? Will rains fall? All must happen at the right time. The weather, as we see at year’s end, changes in strange ways.

Share ideas with or 511 W. Worley, Columbia, Mo., 65203. Maintain and sustain.