3...2...1...Happy New Year! And resolutions are a go!
Every year at least 40% of people make New Year's resolutions. And over 90% of them fail to achieve the goals they set by the following year. It's a lot easier to pound out 30 minutes on a treadmill on January 2nd than on July 18th. It's the nature of the beast.
So come December 31, 2014, as we're staring down the barrel of the oncoming year, it's nearly inevitable that we'll be thinking what a failure we were this year...right? Is there hope for humanity? Perhaps.
Through thousands of government funded dollars given to quantitative research findings, statistical analysis, and surveys, I have found the perfect answers for this quandary...
Ok. Not quite that earth shattering.
But in my tender twenty-three (and currently counting) years, I may have stumbled on a brilliant concept. It's been around since the stone ages when Adam first said, "Hey, Baby" to Eve (more on that later). But we (myself included) tend to forget it exists. Or prefer to forget. And it has nothing to do with resolutions.
Now I'm not saying resolutions are a bad thing. Admittedly I have a handful on my own list for the year. I'm just saying, maybe we have it wrong in approaching the new year with intended, external actions. Maybe...just maybe...we need to start approaching the new year with the resolution to develop internal change. A new mindset. Admittedly more difficult- but vastly more effective.
Ready? This may blow your mind. It is as thus:
Do uncomfortable things.
I'm not saying we all need to make a mass exodus as we leave the country to backpack England and go "Eat, Pray, Love" the world over. I'm talking simple, every-day choices we make that will cause us discomfort and growing pains. But when we lay our heads down at night, we will smile in satisfaction as we close our eyes and know that, though we're still in our home address and thinking about the milk we need to pick up tomorrow, we changed something.
Do uncomfortable things.
Maybe cliche`. But if a phrase is fortunate enough to be titled "cliche`" it usually means there is a wealth of truth buried in the colloquialism. Here are three possible ways of getting to full-fledged discomfort.
1) Ditch the bucket list.
If you're like me, you have a bucket list longer than the last 5 years' Thanksgiving meal grocery lists combined. About three years ago that changed.
I decided that instead of being disappointed that another year had passed and I still hadn't checked skydiving off my list, I would start out with a literal empty bucket and fill it with every golden opportunity I could take advantage of. So last year I may not have gone skydiving. So what? Instead of moping over it, I tossed "concert", "ocean kayaked", and "photographed one of my best friends' wedding" to my growing list. Things I never would have planned on at the beginning of the year. But because I approached the bucket with a proverbial take-the-bull-by-the-horns mindset, I jumped at the chances as they came instead of waiting for the one perfect opportunity. I kept thinking about that empty bucket sitting at home and how I need to fill it. Think about how many opportunities we pass up? In a year...a month...a day...
2) Be skeptical.
Do not confuse this with being cynical. I'm referring to the age old splendor of playing the Devil's advocate. And by that, I'm not saying a Christian has to be an agnostic for a year.
But let's be honest, we all have our own opinions that we've converted to law in our own minds. From our view on the playoff standings to our position on politics to Biblical doctrine, we've got it all figured out, haven't we? Of course our next door neighbor is more than welcome to have their own opinion! But deep down we know they're definitely wrong (silly, Next Door Neighbor). But what if- and it's a big "what if"- we decided to not only listen to someone else's point of view, but we decided to consider it. To study it. To turn it over in our hands and examine it as if it's actually a possibility.
We may not walk away with a change of heart. But that's ok! By learning to seriously consider another's view point, we challenge ourselves to learn if we truly believe in our "beliefs" or if we've simply been holding to a tradition that never had a true foundation for us to stand on.
3) Reach out to others.
Aaand here is where you say, "Well, no duh. Isn't that cute." Yes. No.
It's yet another cliche`. But it's anything but cute. It's flippin' hard. It doesn't mean you have to volunteer in a soup kitchen (although that is a possibility). It means, be aware of the people EVERYWHERE as more than bodies. Shuffling zombies obstructing us in our mighty quest for bread in Walmart ( I hate that aisle). Instead, try TALKING to those zombies. Say "Hi" to the grumpy, frumpy cashier. Strike up a conversation with the person next to you in the waiting room. Stop texting and talk to the person in line with you at the checkout. You'd be amazed at the broken-hearted, sweet, and beautiful person you can find behind that zombified face.
An elderly woman I once cared for in a hospice unit told me, with the biggest, most beautifullest smile you ever saw, "Honey, if someone gets close enough to see your face, you make an impact on them that day. It doesn't matter if all you do is pass them in the store and smile at them. That's it. If you smile, you made their day better. You will touch them." She died the next day. But she absolutely brightened my life for the rest of my existence.
So, to wrap it up.
Do uncomfortable things.
Just think. If Adam never took this to heart, our existence could consist of two naked people at opposite ends of a glorious garden never saying hello. Therefore nullifying the existence of this post...weird.