With the coming of the New Year, many of us feel the pull to make some changes and start fresh on a few fronts. If you’re like me, too often this is a setup for failure—unless you use my recipe for success.
But having some real goals should be a part of life, don’t you think? Otherwise you end up being a big air-sucking blob, and who wants that?
So…while resolutions like going to the gym three times a week or not using swear words (WTF?) are destined to peter out in the month of January, I’m dwelling on some areas for growth that I think none of us have fully mastered and all of us could benefit from.
- Be kinder.
Notice how I have the “er” on the end? Because while I’m sure that to some degree or another we all are kind—we can always do more. As the Dalai Lama says, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Opportunities arise daily for us to keep this resolution, and the “er” means we will always have room to grow.
- Judge less.
A good place to begin working on #1 is right here. By simply working on judging less, it indirectly (and directly for some) will help your kind-o-meter rise. Even if it’s within your own head, reducing judgment results in a more positive spirit—as well as making room for things like compassion and grace. Stay tuned for more on those.
- Laugh more.
If you want to go hardcore on this, studies show that laughter reduces stress and even relieves pain—but even if we don’t go there (does this mean that we’re softcore then?)—our spirits are well aware of what a good laugh can do. There is no better soreness in the world than that which comes after a belly laugh. Seek out the giggles, guffaws, chuckles, and chortles wherever you can. Here’s a little something that gets me every time.
- Seek quiet.
This one is super important for introverts like me, but everyone benefits from some quiet time. It’s not only letting yourself be alone to recharge, but knowing it’s okay to be still and simply breathe. Our world is so chock full of dizzying distractions and pressure to perform that life can envelope you in a swirl of chaos headed nowhere. At least that’s how I feel. I battle the white noise inside my head on a daily basis, and I wish there was a “stop” button—or even a “pause” button—to help me clear the mental clutter and be fully present. Quiet helps me make some headway in this regard. I suspect the same for you…so we should remind ourselves it’s okay to seek that quiet even in this world of overwhelm.
- Be curious.
The I wonders and whys, and what ifs of life lead us to amazing worlds where all sorts of puzzles are solved, inventions are conceived, and learning takes place…and we need this in our everyday lives. We may not invent the next light bulb, but we just may discover and fall in love with a little world that didn’t exist for us before. Thank God for curiosity…it may have killed the cat, but it helps us thrive.
- Be creative.
Whether it’s painting on a blank canvas or coloring in the popular “adult” coloring books (not the XXX kind of adult…just regular adult…though I’m sure they probably exist somewhere…), exercise that creative muscle in your body. Not only will you be better for it, but so will the world…
- Give grace.
I’m not talking about the kind of grace defined as moving smoothly or being polite—I’m talking about the kind of grace God grants us daily—and that we should be granting to one another…and ourselves. The grace that gives loving-kindness to those who do not deserve it. Sometimes it’s harder than others, but being active grace-givers helps us to get the tiniest glimpse of how God’s grace blesses us. So the next time you see a mom who seems to be letting her child keen as though they were at the Wailing Wall, give her some grace and remember that while you are only dealing with the howling for a few minutes…this is her world. Don’t judge her (see #2) as a mom but instead offer her a smile or a kind word. It just may be the brightest spot of her day.
- Grant mercy.
The yin to grace’s yang, so to speak, mercy is not giving what someone does deserve. There are plenty of times where we feel as though “someone’s got it coming,” but if we got everything we have coming to us…well…that puts a little perspective on it now, doesn’t it? Try to remember that the next time some jerkwad…oops, I mean person bullies his way to the front of the line when you’ve been waiting patiently. Strive to refrain from the old “I’m acting like I’m whispering but I really want you to hear me call you out on this” act. Of course, I clearly have no experience in such behavior, but if I did, I would aim to work on it in the name of mercy.
- Offer compassion and empathy.
These two qualities are getting a lot of play lately, and that makes me hopeful for our world. It means we are fighting back against the divisiveness and polarization plaguing our society. When we are empathetic or offer compassion, our hearts are able to connect and maybe even understand one another (I didn’t say agree! I said understand! I’m a realist, after all!) A little understanding can go an awfully long way in this tumultuous world.
- Be love.
Yes, I mean be loving, but…I also mean be love. Just as Gandhi encouraged us to be the change we want to see in the world, I think the same holds true for love. If we are the love we want to feel in the world, then—just like the change Gandhi spoke of—step by step that love grows. As a Christian, this is even clearer when I strive to express myself as the love God brought to me through Jesus. There is no better love. Be love. You can’t go wrong with that.
Do these ten resolutions seem overwhelming to you? Too Pollyanna? Too unrealistic?
But I do know that if every day I aim to embrace them and strive to make progress…I will. Of course, I will fail, too—I’m all too aware of that—but the beauty is that each day is a new chance to try again. And simply in the trying…lies the success.