The beginning of a brand new year is an ideal time to wipe the slate clean and set our hearts and minds on positive change. For resolutions to be meaningful, and most importantly, sustainable, it’s helpful to review the past year, to gain insight into what really matters in the next. As Greek philosopher Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Here are a few helpful questions to ask:
- What was your biggest test this year? What did you learn from it? For me, falling critically ill with Septicemia last January brought me into the Valley of the Shadow, bringing a stunning revelation. When I felt myself slipping away, my only thought was a simple prayer, containing three virtues. “Thank You. I love You. Whatever.” Gratitude, Love and Surrender. I didn’t have a shred of regret or fear of death. Don’t get me wrong. There’s much in my life that I regret and for which I have asked forgiveness. But when I believed I was in my last moments, all I felt was thankfulness for my rich life, love for my Creator, and openness to His will. When I recovered, thanks to the excellent care I received at Aitutaki Hospital, it took weeks for me to regain my strength, and during that time, I reflected on that simple prayer, experiencing a passionate gratitude for each day of life, which has never lessened.
- Is there someone you have hurt? One of the steps in Alcoholics Anonymous is to make a fearless moral inventory, and if you have wronged someone, to make amends whenever possible. Even if it is not wise or appropriate to speak to them about it, you can always choose a virtue to practice to make up for your trespass. One of my resolutions is that when a family member disagrees with me or becomes upset, I’ll get curious, not furious. Ask a question in order to understand better. “What annoys you about this?” Courageously telling the truth face to face rather than merely wishing things could change is another resolution I’m already practicing.
- What are you most grateful for in your life and in yourself over the past year? Ever deepening relationships and friendships are the treasures of my life, including quality time with my birth and adoptive grandchildren. This year my 24 year old granddaughter and I rediscovered each other and are now lifelong BFFs, which brings both of us amazing joy.
4. What do you most want to change in your life? What I aspire to is a continual pace of Grace. I want to “go with the flow” without hurry, pressure, or overdoing. That means pacing myself, only making promises I can keep, and being content with what I am capable of at this season of elderhood. I don’t want my mind to write cheques my body can’t cash. It’s really important to reflect on what a healthy pace of life is at this time in your life and to have the humility to recognize when you can no longer perform as you used to. Even new parents need to make this assessment. My younger son has just had his first child, and he is over the moon in love with his boy. He is also realizing it’s time to change the way he expects to spend his time, including when he gets to sleep!
- Is there something on your “bucket list” you have always wanted to do? A trip you want to take? A place you want to see? A relationship you want to cultivate? There’s no time like the present. Honestly speaking, for me this Paradise IS my bucket list. “I have learned to be content with whatever I have.” (Phillipians 4). What a blessing when you find that you want what you already have.