A beginning can be as small as vowing to get four things done on your list of twenty. Only four? you might ask. Yes, or even only two. It depends on what that thing is. But it’s a start. Small can lead to big finishes, better habits. You could work 30 minutes on a resume and yet send your aunt a note that might take an hour. But depending on how your relationship with your aunt is going, that note might have a much bigger heft than your resume. It all depends, doesn’t it.
I’ve written about habit change before in regards to losing weight, avoiding triggers etc etc. But working on these issues is important and valuable. Habits can make us amazing people or they can break us. If I want people to read what I write, then I must work to create something worthwhile to read…and I must do that every week. No excuses. And if I or anyone of us needs to clear the air with someone we care about, it’s time to begin moving in that direction.
Yes, changing a bad habit of any kind takes work. We might avoid the change, telling ourselves it’s not that important. Like putting off decluttering. The more you ignore it, the worse it gets. Decluttering your environment helps declutter your mind. Henry David Thoreau wrote: I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and I threw them out the window in disgust. ...A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone. This might smack of being extreme, but when you start to organize your closets now that the seasons are changing, keep it in mind.
Negative Stuff, It Still Exists
Any new season or new year doesn’t fool us. Hours after the ball drops or the month changes, life is often the same. While we might hunger for peace and understanding–the news is full of anger and sorrow. People across the globe still face hunger, war, intolerance and persecution. Refugees still stream from their homelands. Thus, attacking a list of chores is insignificant in the face of the angst in our world. So clear your list, get those chores done. You’ll feel better.
Anytime we achieve a goal is a good thing; it’s not meaningless. Have you ever looked into a mirror that is reflecting another mirror and the image is repeated over and over as if into infinity? It is something to marvel at. Like life. When we decide to clean that drawer or whatever resolution we make—it is a start that leads to other things. Dealing with the clutter and chaos of our world can begin in a simple place–you, your home, your environment. And it can CHANGE you, maybe in a small way. But always in a good way. Small changes can move us to reach out to others. It’s like those infinite mirror images eventually touching and helping others. Example: you find in your cluttered garage the box of photos your mother-in-law has been asking for, but you hadn’t made an effort to search. Now your relationship is buoyed, improved, a small but a very good thing.
Patch Adams, Viktor Frankl
Making change is always about choice. It is never about NOT delaying decisions. It’s about digging in. And when you do, that process changes you, hopefully for the better. Because inside each of us is the desire to help ourselves and others. And yes, you might argue that in some people that desire has been stomped on, or become so twisted that anger and hatred take its place. Even so, healing can occur little by little. I like to think about Dr. Patch Adams who traveled the world with his clown costume bringing laughter to the sick and dying. Adams said: the practice of medicine can be a thrill, an exchange so fundamentally loving that it’s difficult to contain the excitement … Scientific brilliance is an important tool, but it is not the magic inherent in healing. Adams believed in the gentle touch, the warmth of communication that truly holds healing power. He believed in the human contact that brings hope in the face of living and in the face of death. If we focus, each of us will find that we too are capable of that human contact, that kindness to another person.
Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, a German concentration camp survivor wrote: We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts, comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
Today, let us work on making good decisions, forming good habits and achieving goals we have ignored. Forming a small habit changes to big decisions, So offer someone your smile, your words. You never know, that like that last piece of bread, your kindness might change a life.