So, we’ve turned the corner into 2019 and none of us know what lies ahead. But I’ve been thinking there are a few things we can take from December 2018 that just might be of assistance to us in the months to come.
Here are four simple steps to creating a meaningful, rich year:
1) Do less. We’re back to work and school and other activities. But let’s not forget that some (if not all) of these “other activities” are ones we choose.
Yes, there’s grocery shopping to be done and birthdays to celebrate, but before we add another ‘to-do’ to our calendars, it wouldn’t hurt to ask: “Do I really want to _______? Am I doing it to please someone else? Out of a false obligation? Is it good and true and helpful (to me or someone in my circle), or am I doing it in a vain attempt to create a favorable impression?”
Over the holidays, I cut a few things out.
I dropped the idea of a family outing to see Christmas lights.
Didn’t force us all to attend an Advent evensong service.
Nixed my plan to make quiche on Christmas morning, since pancakes and scrambled eggs were good enough.
And the result? Less stress.
In each case, I considered my motivations and the potential benefits and chose a quieter, simpler path of peace for myself and my family.
A long time ago, a friend of my husband’s said, “I’ve been a lot happier since I stopped doing things I don’t want to do.”
Yes. Couldn’t have said it better.
2) Rest more. In the week between Christmas and New Year’s my family has done a fair amount of sleeping. I believe we all needed it. Your life and mine are probably very similar, and sleep often goes by the wayside.
But again – we can choose to make rest a priority.
It doesn’t have to mean 8 hours a night (though my experience tells me – and science backs it up – that reaching this goal consistently makes a world of difference). It DOES mean taking time out to put our feet up, read good books, snuggle with our spouses, play board games with kids, and laugh.
You probably did all of this over the holidays and felt some rejuvenation. Keep it up.
3) Spend time with loved ones. This may seem related to point number 2, but it is actually a category unto itself. In December, many of us traveled great distances to see loved ones, carved out time to spend just with them. But I wonder: How will we maintain those connections in 2019?
What if – instead of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram – we spent 20+ minutes talking to one of those special people on the phone?
What if – instead of sitting on our couches watching the Today Show or a sitcom – we had a weekly date to meet a friend for coffee or a walk in a local park?
I know where I waste time daily, and I bet you do too. Let’s choose people over technology. However much those screens add to our lives, the people we know add infinitely more, don’t they?
4) Pray and/or meditate. Did you go to a house of worship over the holidays? Why? Perhaps it was an obligation. You went because that’s what the family does. But how did you feel when you went? Even if you hated it, you went, and I would submit that’s because there’s a deep desire within each of us to connect with Something Greater.
And – I think arguing against this is a strenuous exercise in pushing back against what is.
So acknowledge your curiosity. Explore the possibility. Ask the big questions.
Give your soul the benefit of prayer or meditation. Let it reach out to see What and Who is there.
You WILL be met.
Thank you for reading this. Together, we can embrace the new year with hope and love. I pray for countless blessings for you and yours in 2019.