Tag Archives: gratitude

A Time For Resolve

Today is the first day of 2015.  This is the time of year when resolutions are made, when intentions are set, when we start fresh.  Many of us are reflecting deeply on the past year as we look forward to a new year. We think about what we might have done differently, and we resolve to do better in the future.  We make commitments about exercising, dieting, drinking less alcohol or drinking none at all. We promise to save money, floss every day, be perfect recyclers.  We decide we’ll volunteer every week.  We vow to get more sleep and to be more mindful of our bodies.  In the days and weeks leading up to this first day of the year, we contemplate change and look forward to new beginnings, we plan our goals and compare ours with our friends’.  We make lists, we spend money on gym memberships, we join weight-loss programs, we buy exercise equipment, even our grocery shopping shifts in preparation for our new life, which begins today.

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In truth, our new life – a new day – a new year – begins every moment.  Our new life is now.  We are as good as we are at the moment, and honestly, that’s plenty good enough.  For me, when I am intent and determined to forcibly change something I am doing or some thing about myself I am not happy with, I know it won’t work.  I’ve tried enough times to know this.  Maybe, a few days or a few weeks will pass with success, but it won’t last.  I will fail, and then I will flog myself for my failure, and then I will flog myself even more because this is yet another failure to add to my pile.  When I am focusing on the failure pile, I somehow forget anything good I have done or accomplished.  I neglect to remember the simple goodness in my heart.  I start to believe I am unlovable.  So, now, I don’t commit to unrealistic resolutions.  I try to set my goals in the spirit of kindness toward myself rather than with the idea that I am not good enough and I need to make myself better.

This year, I want to work toward living in the moment, lamenting less about the past and worrying less about the future.  I want to gain a deeper sense of gratitude for what I have and for who I am.  My goal for this year is to be attentive, to listen, to be present.  When I pay closer attention to the world around me, I experience a greater joy.  If I am joyful and smiling, I am more apt to spread that joy to others.  My aim is to be kinder to myself and be less judgmental about my imperfections.  In this way, I find it easier to be committed and resolute about my goals and life in general.  I will keep it simple this year.  I hope to maintain some semblance of balance and peace — even when I feel waves crashing against me.  I will write, I will sew, I will create.  This is simple.  This is what I love.

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Gratitude

I have a friend who is almost eighty-three years old. He refers to himself as an octogenarian. My friend has lived a long life of giving — both of his time and of his money. He gives to charitable organizations regularly. He is an active member of his local Kiwanis Club and continues even today to participate in their community and charitable activities. He has supported homeless shelters, college scholarship programs, and animal shelters. He himself has adopted dozens of dogs and cats, and he has provided them all safety, food and health. He mentors kids and helps them with school work, he buys blankets for the homeless, and he donates food for food pantries. He also gives to his church.

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My friend has been a church-goer since he was a little boy, and he started tithing as a young adult. If I conservatively calculate how much he has given to his church over time, the sum is well over one-hundred thousand dollars. Even as a conservative estimate, this is a significant sum of money.

In a recent conversation, my friend told me he is becoming bitter, and I asked why. He explained that he had forgotten a monthly tithe. It must have been the month when he had gone to his sixtieth college reunion, he told me, and it slipped his mind. Unfortunately, the church sent him not one, but two dunning reminders about the oversight. I was sad to hear my friend is not attending church as regularly since receiving these notices. Church is a sanctuary for him.

It is understandable that the church relies on the tithes of its community. Charitable and not-for-profit organizations rely on the contributions and pledges of their supporters. Sometimes people need to be reminded about these commitments, it’s true. I don’t think my friend expects a pat on the back for all he does, but perhaps a gentler reminder along with a note of gratitude would have been a better way to communicate about the oversight. He certainly would have felt more appreciated.

My guess is that organizations are more successful with fundraising efforts when they ask for help in the spirit of appreciation and gratitude. The holiday season is a time of giving. We typically receive many fund-raising appeals for great causes during this time. We are reminded about the importance and benefits of giving. I wholeheartedly believe, as I said in my last post, that the more we give, the better we get. Let’s remember also to appreciate the giving and to thank the giver. A little pat on the back never hurts.