It is the beginning of a new year, a time when many of us make resolutions to “do better,” to “improve ourselves,” to “start over.” These are usually intended to make us happier or to make others like us better. I never make “New Year’s resolutions.” Not because I think no change is necessary, rather because I will probably not keep them, and will become depressed by my failure.
It is fun, however, to propose resolutions for others. It costs nothing and imposes no responsibility on me. Following are some resolutions I would propose for others.
Be honest with yourself. Stop being vain and pompous. Do not pretend to be something you are not. Step back and look critically at the things you do and say. Are they really you? Is that how others see you?
Listen to others. I know people who are so busy planning their next brilliant statement that it is impossible to have a conversation with them.
Be kind. It is easy to be thoughtless and cruel. Put yourself in the shoes of someone with real needs. You do not have to spend money to help them. Do not “put them down” with nasty comments or criticism. Instead think of ways to speak of their good qualities and encourage them.
Be responsible. Look at your lifestyle. Are you spending money on things that you neither can afford or need? Do you keep your promises to others, to yourself? Did you vote in the last election? Support your loved ones. They may not need your money, but they surely need your comfort and encouragement.
Read a book. Local book stores, Gibson Memorial Library and your school library have books that you will enjoy. The librarian will be eager to help you find them. I know this to be true, as my daughter is the librarian for her school district. Librarians and book sellers love to help you find books that you will be interested in reading. They have them, or will get them for you. Better yet – read several books.
Get involved. There are many groups: food banks, organizations, schools, churches, etc. that need your time and energy. You do not need to be a public speaker, or brilliant speech writer. These organizations need people to do many jobs. My church just “installed” officers and board members for the year. Many others in the congregation will do things without formal positions.
Get a hobby. The list of possibilities is enormous. Watching TV is easy, but really not very productive. A hobby gets you active, both physically and mentally. One of my hobbies is raising cactus and succulents. These plants need very little care, yet they require specific environmental conditions. Cactus are very happy outdoors in Iowa from June through the middle of September. When they bloom, they can be spectacular. During the cold months our home is filled with these prickly plants. I currently care for about fifty varieties. Some plants I have had for over 15 years. One is nearly as tall as I am, and I keep it on wheels to move it in and out of the house.
Get healthy. At least do what you are able, to maintain your health. Stop doing things that will harm your body. Do not overeat, or eat the wrong things. Be physically active when possible. I have walked an average of over 2000 miles for each of the last six years. This cost nothing but time. You can do more than you think is possible.
Be a servant. In a previous column I quoted President Kennedy when he said “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” Nearly 500 years ago Martin Luther spoke of this in terms of “vocation.” Luther taught that God has given each of us jobs to do, or vocations, that serve God by serving our fellow man. These vocations can range from leading corporations or governments – to changing dirty diapers. Man looks at these on a scale of importance. God, on the other hand, looks at them all as equal.
The possibilities for New Year’s resolutions are endless. Think about it. I am going for a walk now.