Resolutionists like me search for ways to improve their lives with a new year’s resolution. My approach rejects specific goals and embraces a one-word resolution of positive emotion to improve my health, happiness and prosperity.
One word resolutions are easy to remember and since the brain sends more emotional messages than reasoning messages, a positive emotion builds on the brain’s natural strength.
“We should harness the abundant energy in positive emotions,” wrote Elaine Johnson, in her book, Beginner’s Guide to the Brain, Major Discoveries that Will Change Your Life.
Last year I vowed, “By the time my feet hit the floor in the morning I can be singing, “Rejoice, this is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
That song energized me to meet my upcoming day fortified by reflections and meditations on what I could do to serve my community, my family and myself. It worked.
Why shouldn’t I repeat a successful resolution? My used SUV has lasted eight years, humming along five years past the warranty with minimal maintenance. Rejoice trumps maintenance and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
It reinforced previous resolutions to ‘balance’ and ‘smile.’ When I felt balanced enough to smile instead of concentrating with a frown during conversations, I’d suddenly smile. People softened their posture and relaxed their expressions, although it’s possible they were bewildered by my sudden smile. Regardless I must smile to continuously strengthen the muscles lifting the ever-heavier wrinkles on my face.
Balance brings on smiles, smiles nurture rejoicing, rejoicing empowers balance, so perpetuating rejoice would permit me to continue strengthening all three.
Smugly convinced I could extend rejoice, my minister asked us if we are the same as we were last year, insisting if we are, we’re in trouble because we’re called to confess where we fall short and dedicate ourselves to growing stronger in the faith.
Phooey. Confessing reminds me I cling to habits I’d rather shed, beginning with coveting sugar, sarcasm, anger and others I’m not going to share. John Wesley, the founder of my faith, wrote a prayer as a memory aid, important at my age.
Break off the yoke of inbred sin, and fully set my spirit free!
I cannot rest till pure within, till I am wholly lost in thee.
I decided I needed another resolution to help set my spirit free, but must I wallow in my short comings all year?
June Darling advises otherwise. She’s a local psychologist and coach who has written a handbook, Seven Giant Steps to the Good Life, describing psychological research, articles about people’s successes, and assessment tools. She also writes a monthly column for the magazine Good Life and this month she advises us to briefly dream by answering a question about what would make us happy and then diligently strategize on how to get there.
She said to begin with the question, “If everything worked out pretty much perfectly in your life, what would you be doing in three years?” and then envision what life would be like, such as Wesley’s vision of purity within.
Emboldened to blend faith and psychology, I poured through my thesaurus and seriously considered numerous enlivening action verbs, including enliven, resolve, grow, do good (too many words), hope, gratitude, love, optimize, elevate, transcend, trust. None settled inside my mental MP3 player.
Finally on the last Sunday in church I heard, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” Why not shine? It comes with a reminding rhyme.
When I embraced it last night, it seemed presumptuous, childish, embarrassing, humbling.
I was tired. My light was fading. It was time to sleep and restore the energy needed to let my little light shine in my infinitesimal space in this immense cosmos.
If I awoke rejoicing and trusting I could let my little light shine, my resolution would be shine.
Shine it is.
And I am afraid to publicly admit it.