Keeping my New Year’s resolution, a post by CEO, John Sayles

Child volunteer distributing tomatoes

January 3, 2018 – Happy New Year! I wrote last year about gratitude: from the Latin “gratus”, meaning pleasing or thankful and “tudo” meaning a state of. Sometimes you have to dig deep to find a word’s meaning. Not here. This year I am again so very grateful for all you have done to support our community, making it more resilient and ensuring that our neighbors exposed to the trauma of lack of food, safe and affordable housing, medical care, and financial security can maintain hope and dignity.

My resolution this year is to move us closer to solving hunger in Vermont and across our country.

A recent New York Times article by Professor David DeSteno of Northeastern University sparked my interest with its discussion about what motivates people to keep resolutions. The article is about keeping New Year’s resolutions. But its analysis applies just as directly to any kind of motivation, be it a commitment to giving back to your community or the actions taken by people struggling with low incomes as they work to move up the economic ladder. Professor DeSteno argues that using willpower and self-control to delay gratification are not the best long-term strategies to change our behavior and achieve success. In the long run, focusing on willpower and self-denial to achieve success wears us down both physically and emotionally. On the other hand, finding motivation in social emotions like gratitude, compassion, and authentic pride can build community bonds, making us feel good about ourselves and about delaying gratification. These emotions “work not by squashing our desires for pleasure in the moment but by increasing how much we value the future.”

Hunger is solved when people with low incomes can go to the store and choose the foods they need and want the same way those with higher incomes can. Experience and research show us that telling