5 Ways to make this year your best ... even in a time of pandemic.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that our best-laid plans can be canceled in a second. Like me, you’ve probably had to improvise and compromise and figure out all sorts of new normals in every area of your life. Coping with all the changes has been difficult and tiresome. Not to mention the divisiveness that pokes its head into conversations and emails and social media, where everyone has an conflicting opinion on how to stay safe or what the prudent decision is in any situation.
But now that we’ve been at this for almost an entire year, it doesn’t seem like we are going back to normal any time soon. So, I’ve been pondering lately: How do we embrace another year of potential craziness? I wonder, what if this is the year we find peace in the chaos by staying grounded in the good things we have in our lives? What if this is the year we learn to be content with where we are, even when things fall apart everywhere we look?
1Write down one thing you are grateful for every day
Either start a gratitude journal to keep track or fill a jar with slips of paper with your daily “thank you” on it. If you have a planner or calendar, you can jot down what you’re grateful for on that instead. But choose something physical like a book or piece of paper or Google document so that at the end of the year you can look back on the 365 bright spots of 2021.
2Say thank you out loud once a week
Make eye contact and thank someone at least once a week. It can be strangers at the hardware store, the delivery person at grocery pick-up, or a family member at home, but don’t let more than seven days go by without voicing your gratitude to someone. Saying the words “thank you” out loud and with sincerity may help you more than it helps the person you are thanking, but he or she is sure to appreciate it too.
3Write a gratitude letter once a month
Who should you take some time to appreciate this month? Ask yourself that every time you flip the page on your wall calendar (do other people still use wall calendars, or is it just me?) and then take some time to write down your thoughts and thanksgiving.
4Check your resentment quarterly
Resentment can take a while to spot as it slowly builds and builds. Every few months, catch yourself when you notice feelings of resentment. At whom, or where, is your resentment directed? If possible, find a way to deal with your resentment by clearing the air. In most cases, directly confronting the person or situation you are struggling with is the best first step. The next step is to realize how your expectations or some personal failing might be at fault in the situation. Changing your perspective on the situation might be all you need to do.
5Read this short book by Fr. Jacques Phillipe
Any book by this priest is probably a good choice, but this year, try his book, Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart. It is a short, simple read, but very profound. And if you feel yourself lagging in the gratitude department, reading a few pages of this book every day will help you refocus and recenter your heart.
2020 was a crazy whirlwind, and if you muddled through somehow, you did well. But, now that we’ve lived through that, we don’t need to muddle through this next year. Let’s live it well, and refuse to be overwhelmed and beaten by the unexpected. There is grace and beauty everywhere and always because Jesus won the battle and sent the Holy Spirit to be with us. Here’s to 2021!
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