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Forget resolutions: Just try to be a 'smart person'

Tammy Swift, columnist

In 2017, I will not make a resolution to lose weight or work out more or expunge Diet Coke from my diet.

After years of resolutions gone sour, I have decided to take a new tack. I'm going to vow to do what smart people do.

My friend — let's call him Jehoshaphat — had a mother who gave him arguably the best advice ever rendered by a parental figure. She told him that whenever he struggled to make a decision, he should ask himself what a smart person would do.

This guideline — which wisely realigns you from impulsive child to objective observer — protected him from dating a beautiful lunatic, investing in Blockbuster and spending $3,000 for a hairless cat.

And here's the deal. We ALL have a smart person inside of us. This applies to even the most ungrounded and impractical of pixies, who typically think they can rise above the impractical, day-to-day monotony of "rent" or "locking the doors" or "using passwords that don't just say 'password.' "

It's hard to say where this smart person's voice comes from. We all have a frontal lobe, which is responsible for decision-making and self-control. Maybe it's that.

We also have years of learned knowledge that tells us not to open the door for that creepy guy or operate farm machinery while wearing a flowing caftan. It could be that.

I actually view that smart voice as an innate instinct that you'll find in any other mammal. Yes, we have experience and knowledge, but we also possess an inexplicable "knowing" that is sometimes defined as "gut instinct." It's right there, telling us not to date a wonderful man who always forgets his wallet at home or to buy a gorgeous sports car that can only be driven three months out of the year.

Unfortunately, the smart person must do battle with our inner idiot. I imagine the latter as a barefoot, moonshine-swilling yokel who sticks his fingers in light sockets, lives for the moment and idolizes "Joe Dirt."

The inner idiot is always telling us, "It's OK to stick your grandmother's leaded crystal into the microwave; you're in a hurry!" Or: "Wahoo! I'm a Scandinavian vacationing in Florida! I'm not going to wear sunscreen so I tan extra fast!"

So while we're bumbling and stumbling through life, caught in our inner idiot's spell, the smart person sits patiently, waiting for us to finally settle down and hear her voice (which I imagine contains traces of an upper-class British accent).

From this day forward, I will try to hear her. Should I try to carry that extra grocery bag, even though it is overstuffed and contains a couple of glass bottles of highly volatile kombucha?

Should I decide to clean out my purse even though I am running late? Would it perhaps be a fool's errand to "just drop by" the puppies and cheesecake store when I am exhausted, lonely and starving?

I am hoping my new partnership with my inner smart person will reduce my regrets and questionable choices by at least 30 percent in 2017.

Or, at the very least, I will stop breaking kombucha.

Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at tswiftsletten@gmail.com.

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