Yes, I have a New Year’s Resolution!

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Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.
Abraham Lincoln

This year I decided to make a New Years resolution. What harm could it do? Well, my mind replied, “It could lead to injured pride.”

I ignored the threat and moved on. So, what resolution? Lose weight, cut back on caffeine, exercise? All of these would be good. Wouldn’t they? Who wouldn’t benefit from having a really healthy body? I certainly would. But, the next morning, after a good night’s sleep, I woke up with a new thought, “You really need to grow up.” It was a little shocking, but true. (Have you ever had a shocking realization about yourself?) I do need to grow up. I don’t mean physically although that would be nice; I mean emotionally. It really is time for me to be more accepting of what is – of things as they are.

Now this wasn’t a new revelation. It’s just that I really wish people made decisions my way – in the world, in our country, at work and at church. (Perhaps you have similar feelings.) Sometimes I find myself having conversations in my head with people from work or from my church explaining how things need to be and they’re listening attentively. But, then another part of me says, “Are you out of your mind? That’s not happening.” That brings me back to reality. Just like me, other people have the power and the right to make their own decisions. My wishing for a different world, and my complaining, changes nothing. I know that, but I still whine and complain.

There are, of course, things that I can do – give to charities, vote, and make suggestions. But, wars will still rage and people will still make what I see as stupid decisions. So, what’s left? Of course, one option is still open – complain to who ever will listen. For example, “I would have done it this way, etc.” But, do I really want to be an armchair critic?

As I reflected I sensed that it was time for me to put focus on a project that I have control of. No more focusing on other people’s work. Man up, focus on my own project and do it as well as I possibly can. No more excuses; get help where it’s needed and do my best. Nothing ventured nothing gained kind of thing. If it’s done poorly or stupidly I’m in control. Change it. Take control. I can get help if I get discouraged. It’s time to stop making excuses for myself.

Of course the down side of taking control is the possibility of failure. I might make a really unfortunate (translate stupid) decision. What would people say about me? Well, most likely, what I’ve said about them. Actually, I’ve gone through a business failure. It was humiliating and depressing and I seriously looked for someone else to blame. But, did I survive? Yes. Did I learn something? Yes. Well then, my mind seemed to tell me, “It’s time to suit up and really get into the game. See what you can do if you single-mindedly focus your energy on it.” I hesitated. Actually, I like control and success; not control and the possibility of failure. But, yes, people do say that failure gives you the experience you sometimes need in order to be successful. That’s fine for others to say; but it’s hard for me to accept. However, it seems to be the truth and I’m working to accept it.

I made my New Years resolution. My 2016 resolution is to focus on writing and photography and see what happens. How successful will I be? I don’t know. But, it does seem like an adventure and it should be more rewarding than complaining. I think my wife will be pleased.

You too may have have made a New Year’s resolution. If not you might consider it. It could be fun. What could you do that might make 2016 an improvement over 2015? You might find the effort rewarding. And, you might find yourself with a grateful partner. It might be worth a thought.

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Time Matters

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“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘don’t want to.”  Lao Tzu

“Time is a game played beautifully by children.”  Heraclitus

“Lost time is never found again.” Benjamin Franklin

Time matters more to me at seventy-three than it did at twenty-three. At twenty-three time seemed to stretch out forever. I couldn’t image forty-three much less seventy-three. Now I know that time has limits. It can’t be saved. You spend it. And, I know that how it’s spent pretty much determines my future. Love, respect, and prosperity tend to come to those who spend time wisely.

Time spent foolishly can result in isolation and poverty. Think wisely about time. Ask yourself, do you take time to –

  • Relax?
  • Eat nutritionally and regularly?
  • Sleep?
  • Exercise?
  • Connect with your partner?
  • Enjoy your children?
  • Stay connected with friends?
  • Continue to learn?
  • Consider the spiritual side of life?
  • Plan for the future?

All of the above activities help you to stay in balance. For example, meditation, contemplation, and prayer help you to relax and connect with yourself and the world you live in. Taking care of your body with nutritious food, sleep, and exercise gives you energy to invest in what’s important. Time with good people results in attention, affection, and love. Personal time gives space for play and doing nothing if you want to. Planning for the future gives your life direction and learning new things enriches your life.

It’s important for you and your partner to think through how to balance out time. Failure to plan can result in things like excessive spending and an excessive amount of time devoted to work. It can also result in time being devoted to things like fun computer activities that isolate you from family and friends. The result is that you feel disconnected with both yourself and others.

Think about how you’re spending your daily allowance of twenty-four hours? Talk it over with your partner. Be sure your time is wisely invested. Time does matter.

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Take Time To Check In With Yourself

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I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Self-examination is critical to maintaining your body, to enabling personal growth, and to the development of healthy relationships. You and I need to know how we’re doing. Here are some things you can do –

1. Sense whether you can relax and feel accepted, alive, and whole when you’re by yourself. If you can’t, kindly ask yourself, why?

2. Think about your attitude toward your body. Are you okay with it despite its pains, weaknesses, and shape. Be compassionate. Contempt can result in more tension, more pain, overeating, etc. Kindly work for a healthy body.

3. See if your body is relaxed or tense. You can give your body permission to relax by breathing more slowly and deeply and focusing on what is beautiful, good, and true.

4. Kindly examine your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Acknowledge your mistakes, make amends, and accept forgiveness.

5. Consider the positive things that you’ve done and accept that this too is reality.

6. Focus your thoughts on the present and let yourself absorb the beauty, goodness, and truth in it. Avoid getting stuck in the past or fantasizing about the future. Say, “No,” to your mind and come back to the present.

7. Consider other people. Can you feel a positive connection with the people in your life? If you can’t, kindly consider why?

8. Consider your attitude toward the world. Do you notice the goodness and beauty that is there? Do you feel connected and grounded? If not, why?

9. Consider your attitude toward the universe. Do you have any sense of connection with it; that you are part of something much larger than yourself?

10. Do you sense that your life has purpose, that you are contributing to something larger than yourself? If not, you might think this. Purpose, love, service, and sacrifice can lead to much fulfillment and contentment.

Self-examination can be painful but it’s worthwhile. It gives you an opportunity to celebrate the good that you’ve done and the opportunity to learn from your mistakes, make amends, and change. You can learn to endure all the truth about yourself. Solitude, contemplation, and reflection help you deal with the world and fate as they are. You’ll be glad you took time for this.

“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield,”

William Butler Yeats.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  Gandhi