WE’RE ABOUT A full month into the new year. Many of us made resolutions for self-improvement. Unfortunately, many of us have already broken a few of those resolutions, but there is still time to get back on track.

Regarding resolutions, I have a friend who couldn’t wait for Lent to start Wednesday, Feb. 14. He has vowed to give up his New Year’s resolutions for Lent. He said it will be easy.

A former colleague, Esther Bielawski of Delphos, Ohio, once passed along the following list of less-thought-of resolutions we all should consider and a recipe for a joyous new year. She noted “Remember your day goes the same way the corners of your mouth turn.”

Bielawski urges us to have a little less impatience with those we deem too slow,

A little less arrogance because of all we know,

A little more humility, seeing our worth is slight,

We are such trivial candles compared to stars at night.

A little more forgiving and swifter to be kind,

A little more desirous the word of praise to find,

The word of praise to utter and make a heart rejoice,

A little bit more true eagerness to understand each other,

A little more real striving to help a shipwrecked brother,

A little more high courage for that which must be done,

These be our resolutions, God help us every one.

And now, the recipe for happiness. Take 12 fine, full-grown months and see that these are free from all old memories of bitterness, rancor, hate and jealousy. Cleanse them completely from every clinging spite.

Pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness. In short, see that these months are freed from all the past, have them as fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of time.

Cut these months into 30 or 31 equal parts. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time, but prepare one day at a time as follows:

Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work, hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, rest, prayer, meditation and one well-selected resolution. Put in about a teaspoon of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play and a heaping cupful of good humor.

Pour love into the whole and mix with a vim. Cook thoroughly in a fervent heat. Garnish with a few smiles and a sprig of joy then, serve with quietness, unselfishness and cheerfulness.

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ANYONE KNOW if the following is true? A longtime reader asked if I know the easy way to tell the difference between a government office and a private business. This could be the county courthouse, the city hall or any of the state government offices. Here’s his answer.

Merchants and their employees generally park at the back of the lot, leaving the handiest spaces for their customers, he explained. Government employees and elected officials use the best parking spaces for themselves. Often, the spaces are reserved.

If his observation is correct and government employees are here to serve the public, why do they give the public the least accessible parking spaces?

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EVERY TIME our elected government leaders force a government shutdown, they tell nonessential employees not to report for work because the government does not have the money to pay them. It’s a shameless political bargaining stunt that hurts lots of people.

Then, when the shutdown ends, let’s say after three weeks, Congress quietly authorizes the payment of wages to those who were sent home. Basically, paid time off. This happens every time. Most of the employees said they would have kept working knowing that they would have eventually been paid. By law, members of Congress continue to be paid during a shutdown.

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VERY OFTEN, popular notions of the relative positions of nations and continents are out of line with reality. The following geographical puzzlers make great bar trivia questions.

We usually think of Canada as being north of our country. But if you fly south from Detroit, Mich., you’ll arrive in Canada. If you’re unconvinced, check the map.

Three out of four Canadians live farther south than many people in the United States. One out of four Canadians live south of Minneapolis, Minn. The extreme southern point of Canada is south of Boston, Mass.

The northernmost part of Mexico is farther north than Savannah, Ga. Most of us think of Michigan as being Midwestern and Florida as being on the Eastern seaboard. But if you live in Detroit and want to take the most direct route to Pensacola, Fla., you will have to travel slightly west.

Likewise, Los Angeles, Calif., is on the West coast and Reno, Nev., is a good many miles inland. Yet Reno is about 80 miles west of Los Angeles.

Many geographic names are misnomers. For example, Coney Island is not an island, there are no rapids at Grand Rapids, Mich., and no ferry at Harpers Ferry, W. Va.