The Atlantic Daily: You Don’t Have to Better Yourself in 2022

New year, new you. Or not.

Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.


Each January, the self-improvement Trojan horse rides in with the New Year, welcomed by Americans who resolve to spend their time more efficiently. As well-intentioned as these desires may be, they also feed our deep cultural bias toward productivity.

You can choose not to participate. Besides, as my colleague Faith Hill reminds us this week, most resolutions fail, anyway.

  • This isn’t the year for it. “How 2022 will unfold is so uncertain that choosing new goals feels like setting forth in a snowstorm, squinting into a great blurry expanse,” Faith writes.

  • Americans tend to treat leisure like work. “The Protestant work ethic that is foundational to American culture positions labor as morally good in and of itself, whether you’re working hard at a desk, on a farm, or teaching yourself the guitar tabs to ‘Wonderwall,’” Julie Beck writes.

Three hamsters sitting at a bar
Tom Bingham

The news in three sentences:

(1) The United States recorded more than 1 million new COVID cases in a single day on Monday. (2) The Great Resignation accelerated in November, with 4.5 million people leaving their job, according to new government data. (3) Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will not face criminal charges over allegations that he groped a then-aide, the Albany County district attorney said.

What to read if … you or a loved one test positive for a breakthrough COVID infection:

The science writer and editor Yasmin Tayag explains what to do next.

Today’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Netflix’s Emily in Paris is tacky, and that’s the point, Spencer Kornhaber argues. “It indulges in escapism for its own sake, and it continually picks apart the definitions of quality.”

A break from the news:

Hamsters can hold their liquor: “You just put a bottle of unsweetened Everclear on the cage and they love it.”


Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.