Elements for a meaningful 2018

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I’m always interested in New Year’s Day. Of course football is close to the top of my interests. The majority of the months of the year are named after Roman gods. Like March is named after the god of war-MARS.

Thus, we have January. It is named for JANUS. He had one face looking forward and one looking backwards. To the new and to the old. To the future and to the past. To the possibilities and to the failures.

Many, many centuries ago the Greeks conducted a poll among the philosophers. The subject concerned about the “most basic element” in existence. Some of the answers were: wind, air, water and personality.

Ultimately the winner was CHANGE. Nothing remains the same. Even such elements mentioned: wind, air, water and personalities were always in a state of flux; change.

So it is with every New Year. It will bring change-for certain.

Consider a few of the approaches that we can have to change in the New Year. First, we can have either a POSITIVE ATTITUDE or a negative one. The choice is ours.

Joshua, a Biblical hero, gave his followers a challenge; “choose this day.” January has 31 days and every day is filled with choices. Our attitude in every choice will be a positive one or a negative.

Years ago I heard this humorous and meaningful account. It’s about twin boys, about ten years old. They are identical except one has a positive disposition and the other one is negative. The parents decided to play a trick on them at Christmas. The negative boy is given several toys that every ten- year-old would want.

The other twin was given a sack of horse manure. On Christmas morning they were amazed at their gifts.

But, their reactions were typical. The negative twin moaned: “Is this all I get?” and “They’ll soon break and I’ll be without anything.” On and on.

The positive twin responded with a happy look and a reply. “With all this manure, there has to be a pony outside.”

If we expect the worst, we are bound to get it. It is important to remember that happiness is always a by-product. The determining factor is one’s attitude.

The second ingredient is PERSISTENCE. Giving up or quitting is never an option for successful living.

Dr. Scott Peck, in his classic book, The Road Less Traveled, said it succinctly in the first paragraph “Life is difficult.” Successful living in 2018 will be a reality only if perseverance is practiced.

Two of the best phrases I ever read came from two literary mentors. Someone that I never heard or met in person. The first was Paul Tillich. He said, “There is a saving element in every situation. “Quitting will smother that saving element into obscurity.”

The second literary mentor is Thomas Edison, the great inventor. He was the inventor of the light bulb. In his own words he is recorded as saying that he tried over 1,000 ways to develop the light bulb.

When asked what he had learned, he responded with these words, “I learned 1,000 ways that would not work.” That is perseverance.

The third element in making a meaningful 2018 is having an OPEN MIND. Expressing it is curiosity. About situations, about people; about life itself.

The biggest obstacle to an open mind is PREJUDICE. I heard a recent question on a TV talk show. He referred to a national political figure’s attitude toward Muslims as, “his arrogance is only exceeded by his ignorance.”

That is religious prejudice. Racial prejudice also contributes to a closed mind. Prejudice based on race is only possible when a person’s mind is closed.

A fourth element in making a success of 2018 or any other year, is to develop or maintain significant GOALS. In the Bible Book of Proverbs 29:18, it says, “Where there is no vision (goals) the person (people) perish (fail).”

There are several benefits in having goals. They are excellent antidotes to the pressures caused by the news-both local and global.

They also stimulate activity. Being a couch potato is impossible when confronted by a goal.

Two of the most interesting people I’ve ever known lived to be over 100.Their minds were agile; they walked with vigor; they dressed to the hilt every day when I saw them and they were always happy. By the way, they also loved to tell a humorous event or joke.

They also ALWAYS were planning some activity (goal). Their names? Nora and Betty.

MY GOAL IS TO FOLLOW MY OWN ADVICE.

Amen. Selah. So be it.

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Doc Abersold is a 87 year old man who has his Ph.D. in two emphases: Behavioral Medicine and Humanistic Psychology. He has been on 130 cruises - many as destination lecturer and has visited 84 countries.

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