First of all Happy New Year!
I am assuming most of you will be reading this just before or just after 2017 draws to a close and 2018 arrives on the scene. For some reason, this year’s transition is a particularly introspective event for me. I am wondering about life and I am wandering through my thoughts concerning where I have been and where I might end up during the next 365 days.
Here are some issues I am considering, vis a vis, how I have handled myself in the past and what I have learned that may affect future interactions during 2018.
My wish/prayer/hope for each of you is that as you skim this post, you will give yourself time to sit down and consider your own review of the past 365 days. Give yourself this present. Sit down, listen to some favorite music, drink some favorite beverage, pull out a journal, just stop and slow down.
To be honest, the world has seemed particularly crazy this year.
I really want to make sense of how this year has warped me or challenged me. I don’t want to conclude I have just survived this year. I want to have survived it and confronted it. So here is what I have been asking myself.
- What one thing this past year has brought me a true sense of peace, hope, or joy?
- What one thing has been a particularly difficult challenge for me? In fact, what one thing has happened this year that has shaken me to the core of all that I hold dear – that has exposed my foundational values?
- Of whom have I asked forgiveness and for what offense? Did I learn a lesson from that act that will affect the way I interact with folks during this next year?
- For loyal readers of this blog, you know I believe “every life should have a noble purpose.” Did I discover and respond to something noble this past year? Did it give me the courage and/or wisdom to consider a new purpose for 2018?
- Where did I travel, whom did I meet, what did I see that provided me with a new life lesson?
- How much time did I spend dealing with nostalgia, melancholy, and despair?
- How much time have I spent in hope – short term and long term hope?
- Have I fully attended to issues of mind, body, and spirit this past year? What are my plans for 2018?
If you have hung in and read this far, I thank you. I realize that you have committed about five minutes so far and I ought to be offering you some reward or gesture of thanks for your valuable time.
Here goes – to quote A Tale of Two Cities, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
During this year, enough has happened to significantly call into question my deeply held belief that in the long run good wins out. My faith in the power and promise of hope has been shaken to its core. The basic foundation of my life has been exposed. Several times this year I have looked into the psychic abyss.
But this one thought kept coming back in the times of my worst angst. The short term must be fully embraced if there is any hope for long term happiness. Suffering in fear is injustice. Suffering in the pursuit of that which helps ease the turmoil of another person’s life is time well spent. There is an agenda, a plan that supersedes all other plans. It fits into the harmony of the universe. Until a person finds that agenda, they can know no real peace or joy.
Certainly you and I can recreate some unique version of get up, eat, go to work, interact with others, eat and go to bed, but after a short time we sense that’s not enough. I guarantee no amount of accumulated “stuff” will ever satisfy our lives. You and I will always be looking for diversions to temporarily bring relief from the routines of our own “unique” agendas. We don’t dream big enough to bring us real success or purpose.
So we need an intentional process that begins with items 1-8 from above.
Here’s your reward for staying the course.
Do this in 2018, and I guarantee the year will fly by. Devote yourself to someone. What I mean is this – intentionally choose a person with whom you will interact in the following way. During this next year, you will put the needs of your intentionally selected person before your own. On a daily basis you will develop opportunities and strategies to offer your person constant affirmation and encouragement. You will only seek their well being and help them discover how they might best live out their perfect idea of a great life in the next year.
In short, this year, make a new best friend. Not an acquaintance, not a shopping buddy, but a fully functioning new friend based on your utmost care for them. In short, sacrifice your time, your talent, and your treasure for the benefit of one new friend. Make his or her welfare the most important purpose in your life.
One last thing – if you are single this may be easier than if you are living with another person. Let me suggest before you begin this endeavor you discuss this exercise with your partner. Your partner may wonder why they aren’t the object of the challenge.
This will be tough because as we get older we don’t generally make new best friends. Unfortunately we don’t always treat our old friends/partners with this level of sacrifice or intentionality. Just keep this in mind.
Let me know how that goes.