Resolving to be or do better is a healthy practice any time of year. But a new calendar always holds an added promise of renewal and progress. It's a great time for change.
Sometimes when I've made resolutions, they've been what I call "short radius" resolutions — get more exercise, eat less, sleep more, spend less, work harder.
Nothing wrong with those, but even if successful their effective radius is somewhat limited. Resolutions that reach beyond ourselves and focus on blessing others can be very powerful, longer lasting … and healthy. As spiritual healer and author Mary Baker Eddy wrote more than 100 years ago, "Spiritualize human thought, and our convictions change."
One way to do that is to start with concepts that are important to us and look for ways to make them regular features of our lives. This can be potentially transformative, not just for us but for all those within the radius of our thought and activity. A few examples:
• Justice. Find ways to treat other people with a deeper sense of justice. Look for examples of politicians acting justly for the public good and thank them for that. Expecting justice from others may require offering it yourself.
• Compassion. Extend your kindness to someone new. Instead of ignoring an unresponsive or unfriendly neighbor, find a way to break through. Bring over a homemade pie, leave a gift or sweep their curb.
• Hospitality. Expand the borders of your home mentally. Show hospitality by going to the curb and offering your mailman a friendly greeting or even a snack. Our mail carrier carries dog biscuits for all the neighborhood dogs and is well loved as a result. Our dogs do tricks for him in return. It makes his day … and ours!
• Gratitude. Find small ways to express gratitude to people who might need it. Thank the bagger in the grocery store for doing a thoughtful job of arranging your food.
• Stillness. Find stillness in and around everyday activities. Before your car leaves the driveway, take 30 seconds to be still. Close your eyes and be grateful that you have a car and resolve to drive it in a way that is mindful of other people — pedestrians, bikers, road workers and other drivers.
• Presence: Control the tendency to obsess about the past or worry about the future. When you start worrying about the future, transform the worry into a positive, progressive plan. When you start dwelling on past regrets, find a way to make them right or resolve to move on and leave them in the dust.
The Hebrew prophet Isaiah, the same one who foresaw the birth of the Messiah, had some good advice for his people: "Enlarge the place of thy tent." By following that timeless wisdom, our own resolutions can reach out beyond our own lives and bless those around us with a universal goodwill.
Bob Clark is a Christian Science practitioner from Belleair. Read his blog at simplyhealthyflorida.com.