Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Another year is upon us. As like any other it will be – for the most part – what we make of it ourselves.

Of course we cannot predict unforeseen circumstances or events that will most definitely spring up to hinder our progress. But we can determine how they affect us by our response to them.

Undone Tasks
Have you been putting anything off that you should have done last year or need to now? Time marches on. Every day has only 24 hours. If it’s important to you then do it.

The Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” No matter what the task before you it is composed of individual steps. Break it down and go at it.

I always find that a job is far more difficult when looked at in total than when you’re actually doing it. A good example for me is painting a house. I’ve done it a couple times in the past two years. It’s four walls (or so, depending…) Tackle whatever it is one step at a time.

It works for everything – losing weight, smoking cessation, whatever. And don’t give up. 

Are you faced with financial stress? Ask yourself what can you reasonably do without. North Americans in general have too much. It’s the result of 60 years of intense marketing. Businesses have convinced us that we can’t live without “stuff” we had no idea was key to our happiness.

Right. Don’t believe it. Look in your heart. What truly makes you happy? Besides fundamentals like food and shelter I bet there’s precious little in the way of “goods” that you must, must, must have to make you complete.

This year for me will include clearing out a lot of what I don’t need. It will give me a clearer, better and more “real” understanding of what is important in life.

I know there are many who may be reading this that are in dire financial straits. To you my heart goes out. Persevere, and trust that all will turn out as it should. No one less than Ghandi said “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” Keep faith.

If, on the other hand, you are one who has been blessed with good fortune seriously consider giving to those less fortunate than yourself. This comes in two forms: your time and your money.

Remember the words of Charles Dickens, through the character of Jacob Marley: “BUSINESS? Mankind was my business! Their common welfare was my business!”

That’s a tough one for most I know, but true riches lies in how we help our fellow man. A “hand up” is almost always more helpful than a “hand out.” Although that is sometimes immediately needed too.

Those we love
If you’re fortunate (as I am) you have people that you truly love in your life. Tell them that you love them. Show them that you love them. This doesn’t just mean your spouse. Extend it to all of your family, your co-workers and if you can – even your enemies. At the very least it will confuse them to no end!

Jesus said it best while preaching the Sermon on the Mount: “Love thine enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

Love is a verb, not a noun. By that I mean that it is something that has to be shown. Loving someone means demonstrating that love, not just saying it.

Love lives and thrives in the smallest tasks, a kindness to another, a gentle word, a favour done that was unspoken. Saying “I love you” may be three of the most important words in any language, but if not acted upon they are hollow and useless.

So as this new year dawns and we stare out onto the blank canvas upon which the year will be painted think what colours you will add. Will they be bright colours of joy, happiness and fulfillment or will you paint the year with dark shadows?

Each day dawns new and although we may be left with the residue of our yesterdays it is up to each of us to shape our lives ourselves.

There’s a reason that today is called the “present.” It is a gift. Treat every day like one.

May 2012 bring you and yours comfort, peace and security. But remember, what we give is usually what we receive in return. Make sure each day builds a better world.


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