This excerpt was adapted from Unity Magazine.
By Victor M. Parachin
Now's the time of year for … taking stock of your life.
- Have an in-depth look at your life. Ask yourself: What needs attention? Where does improvement need to take place? How can I serve God and others more effectively? Then, after you compile a mental list, choose just one thing you'd like to work on today.
- Practice the attitude of gratitude daily. There's always something to be thankful for; find it.
- Let your light shine. Offset darkness by being light. Remember what Jesus said: “You are the light of the world. … Let your light shine.” (Mt. 5:14, 16)
- Stretch yourself. Do something to expand your comfort zone. Push yourself to make a difficult phone call, reach out for a new friend, sign up for the marathon.
- Offset meanness, pettiness and vulgarity. The best way to do this is by constantly being a person who is courteous, respectful, kind, grateful and who exhibits a generosity of spirit.
- Budge a grudge. “Forgiveness is the power that enlivens relationships. Forgiveness keeps life moving forward, creates harmony, and makes you spiritually strong,” writes Maoshing Ni in his book Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100.
- Listen more than you talk. Many people you encounter daily are struggling under some burden. Listen with kindness, sympathy and understanding.
- Do it now! Don't delay. Don't procrastinate. You've wanted to take that class—do it now! You've wanted to begin an exercise program—do it now! You've wanted to sing in the church choir—do it now!
- Refrain from complaining. When Unity minister Rev. Will Bowen challenged his congregation at One CommUnity Spiritual Center in Kansas City, Missouri, to go complaint-free for 21 days and gave them purple bracelets to wear as a reminder, the atmosphere at the church changed. … Bowen says, “We're always affirming either what we want or don't want, so we want to affirm our good or that which we desire.”
- Deal with your demons. “When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them” was the teaching of Confucius.
- Avoid gossip. There's too much of that going around. Stop yourself and discourage others from gossiping by changing the subject, saying something positive about the person being gossiped about, or excuse yourself and walk away from the conversation.
- Cultivate a healthy perspective. When problems emerge, a balanced perspective is vital. Here is wisdom from John C. Maxwell in his book The Winning Attitude: “There is an expression I use quite often when I sense that the difficulties of the day are overwhelming me. At the moment when I have ‘had enough' I say, ‘This too shall pass!' That brief statement really works. It helps me gain perspective on my situation.”
- Look for the good in everyone. Make it your goal to appreciate something about every person you encounter. Then share your appreciation with them. You will uplift and brighten their day.
- Be more personable. Address people by name. As you go through a checkout line, see if the cashier is wearing a name tag. If so, thank him or her by name.
- Have a beginner's mind. “Being a student means you have room for new input,” writes Wayne W. Dyer in his book Real Magic: Creating Miracles in Everyday Life. “When you are green, you grow; when you are ripe, you rot. By staying green you will avoid the curse of being an expert. When you know in your heart that every single person you encounter in your lifetime has something to teach you, you are able to utilize their offerings in a profound way.”
- Look for God in all of life. Think about these words from T. Byram Karasu, author of The Spirit of Happiness: Discovering God's Purpose for Your Life: “You may find God in the laughter of your children; the grief of a friend; the opening of forsythias after a long winter; the noisy joyfulness of birds and wind; or the quiet testimony of ants and cobwebs. God's altar is everywhere and in everything.”
- Live hopefully. No matter what happens, always focus on your hopes, not your hurts.
- Be enthusiastic. “Enthusiasm makes ordinary people extraordinary,” observed minister Norman Vincent Peale.
- Be an encourager. Your kind words can make the difference between going on or giving up for someone who is struggling. Anthony Kubek hated high school so much that he quit. His basketball coach, however, saw talent and encouraged him to reconsider. Kubek returned, graduated, went on to college, and even earned a doctorate. He became an expert on China and wrote nine books. Much of that success can be traced back to a coach who encouraged a frustrated teenage boy decades earlier.
- Practice great patience. Be a patient driver. Be patient with your colleagues, family and neighbors.
- Keep fine-tuning your life. Singer and breast cancer survivor Sheryl Crow observes: “We talk about defining moments, but I think nothing can define you. They're all refining moments. You're constantly refining yourself and refining your life.”