As we venture into a new year, we all have hopes that 2018 will bring a certain level of satisfaction to our lives and our world. Here are five suggestions for doing your part to make it so:
1) Not everything matters the same. It is too easy in our culture to consider little pains to be equal to large ones. To too many of us, every inconvenience and disappointment seems to elevate itself to the highest level of discomfort and outrage.
It’s time to see things as they really are. Some things just don’t matter. In fact, most of the daily occurrences in our lives don’t merit a high level of frustration on our part. Learn to let the little things slide.
Develop thicker skin, and try to keep the ole’ blood pressure from going through the roof every time you get cut off on the freeway or you get someone’s voice mail assuring you they’re doing something far more important than answering your call. Save your emotional fuel for the things that really do matter.
2) You score more points for solutions than you do for recognizing problems. Have you noticed that everyone seems to be a pundit these days? It seems as though cynicism and criticism have become our national pastimes. We’re becoming a nation of pessimists, and those who are the most clever at describing their pessimism are often admired.
But pessimism and the ability to point out problems have never helped anyone. What we need are more optimistic problem-solvers who are clever enough to make things better. How about this: Refuse to listen to anyone babbling on about what’s wrong unless that person also has some credible suggestions for making things better. And if you’re a boss, demand that your employees bring three suggested solutions for every problem they lay on your desk.
3) People matter most, especially those closest to you.
It seems that every day we read about death and adversity claiming another family, another town. We live in a dangerous world that makes no promises about tomorrow. When all is said and done, our relationships are what matter most.
Someone has said “The best things in life aren’t things.” This year, make your closest relationships your priority. Learn to forgive more easily, love more deeply, and laugh more heartily. Pay attention to the people in your life more than to the tasks that fill up your life and see if that doesn’t make your world that much more satisfying.
4) Be a low-maintenance friend. If you’re one of those needy people who drains the life out of those who love you, stop it! If you’re weak, hit the emotional weight room. Grow up, stand up, and start being a giver rather than taking all the time.
What we all want are low-maintenance friends who don’t need constant emotional polishing. What we don’t need are those people who audit every conversation and situation to find something that offends them. If you are one of those people who is easily hurt by every little thing, go back and read suggestion No. 1 again, and start working to join that segment of society that is emotionally strong and the best kind of friends.
5) Make it a “no regrets” year. Live each day so that when you put your head on the pillow, you have no regrets. Be courageous and live a valuable life. Be sensitive when needed and live a caring life. Be smart and live a sensible life. Be disciplined and live a consistent life.
And above all, be honest and live an ethically admirable life.
Lastly, to all my faithful readers, thanks for your encouragement in the grocery store, on the sidelines, in the auditorium, and on the sidewalks of our fair city. We’re all in this together, and I so appreciate that this column is turning into many wonderful conversations with you all. Now let’s make it a happy New Year!
David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. Ethically Speaking” runs Saturdays in The Signal.