Extraordinary New Year

How to Prepare for an Extraordinary New Year!

“Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits. Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values. Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Hello, and thank you for being here! I hope you had a sweet, memorable Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa! 

This is my 51st article for 2022. Every time I begin to write, I close my eyes and picture you there, having set aside a few minutes to read this. It has been and continues to be such a privilege to write to you every week.

This article is about how to prepare for an extraordinary year. One definition of prepare is to “make ready.” How do we make ourselves ready for an extraordinary year? Not simply a great year but a year outside of what’s ordinary and predictable in life, because that’s what extraordinary means. 

Mahatma Gandhi says that it all begins with our thoughts. So our first task is to see what thoughts we want to empower and what we want to leave behind.

Further guidance about our thoughts can come from the Prayer of St. Francis. Many people know this prayer. Here is a portion:

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
Where there is hatred…let me sow love.
Where there is injury…pardon.
Where there is discord…unity.
Where there is despair…hope.
Where there is sadness…joy.
Where there is darkness…light.

Grant that I may not so much seek:
To be consoled… as to console.
To be understood… as to understand.
To be loved… as to love.”

We could spend years studying that text and Gandhi’s quote. But if we look at both sections together, they offer guidance about one way to begin this next year.

The prayer is all about contribution. What thoughts might I empower during this new year that will benefit those around me? I may have alluded to something called our Life’s Intentions in past articles. These are the purposes, aims, or directions that give our life a sense of meaning. They each represent a particular way to contribute to others. When our action comes from one or more of our Life’s Intentions, we intuitively see that we have made a difference and that the world is a little better because we are in it.  And we become happier!

If what I just wrote is hard to believe, think of the happiest times in your life. Wasn’t there an element of contribution? Look and see for yourself. Where were you? What was happening? Here is an example from someone I’ve known for years. I’m calling him Juan to keep his anonymity. 

Juan: Last year, our family did something that captured Christmas more than anything else. Two days before Christmas, we decided that we wanted to contribute to someone without letting them know who did it! We went to our local Walmart around 8 pm and watched for people who looked like they needed support. For instance, there was this woman. Her cart was full of grocery items and three toys. 

She looked exhausted. We went to the checkout person and let them know we’d pay for whatever was in her cart. We asked them not to let her know who was doing this. I gave them my credit card and asked them to charge it while I remained hidden in the vicinity. 

When this woman learned that everything in that cart was already paid for, the look of surprise and delight said it all! She kept looking around for who did it. That exhausted look disappeared for a moment. I could see her mouthing “thank you” while she looked around for someone.

Meanwhile, my wife and children had these huge smiles on their faces. When we went for hot chocolate after this event, my two daughters, ages 8 and 10, couldn’t stop laughing and talking about how great it felt to give something to someone who looked like they needed support. Alice, the young one, declared that this was the best Christmas ever! They decided to create a Christmas fund from their allowances to do this again next year!

This scenario started with a thought to be a contribution to someone in need. That made Christmas special to this family.

Let’s look at the following part of St. Francis’ prayer.

Grant that I may not so much seek:
To be consoled… as to console.
To be understood… as to understand.
To be loved… as to love.”

Instead of first being interested in receiving love, understanding, and consoling (comfort) from others, what am I willing instead to first give to them?

If I take this to heart, it cuts out all of my complaints about others and how they don’t understand or “see” me. I can no longer accuse other people of “not knowing who I am,” or criticize them for not showing me enough love. 

If you’re really willing to prepare for an extraordinary year, I want to suggest that you first be willing to focus on thoughts that will contribute to those around you. A good beginning would be to go to this location and download the document:

Academy for Coaching Excellence Life’s Intentions Inventory

Look at three of the Life’s Intentions that score 5 for you. Put them on a card. A 3×5 card may be too small, so look for the next biggest size.

On the top of the card put “For an extraordinary New Year, I am willing to be:” and then list the three of your Life’s Intentions that scored 5.  Put this card where you can see it every day for the next 30 days.

 You are training your brain to look for where you can contribute to others while simultaneously accomplishing something for yourself!

For example, if one of your Life’s Intentions is  “To be physically fit and healthy,” where will it contribute to other people and yourself to demonstrate that intention in physical reality?

Remember: It all starts with the thoughts we are willing to empower. Each Life’s Intention represents what could be called a “thought.”  And remember, too, what Gandhi said: Your thoughts ultimately become your destiny!

Be well, and until next time, remember how precious you are and how much you have to contribute to this world!

Hugs,

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