By: Sandy Churchill
As 2016 draws to a snowy close and 2017 lingers on the threshold, the timeless sensation of resolutions comes to mind. As parents, we share a potential spirit of reflection, evaluation, and future promises to do better somehow—to keep doing what is working, for sure, but also to embrace change, improvement, and a re-commitment to fitness, patience, management of finances, and overall life balance.
We may seek to erase bad habits or start new patterns of health, responsibility, and growth. This year, though I am still committed to doing the best I can, cooking nutritional meals, praying, journaling and exercising daily, my resolution can be captured in a word: JOY!
As this year’s promise for 2017, I am dedicating the year to cultivating joy—embracing a positive attitude, choosing to see the good in each day, waking each morning with a spirit of gratitude, and most importantly—doing what I can to convey and share joys to inspire others. With my Sunday School students and my own children, we have talked about “the ripple effect.” In short, this means that a word or action as seemingly small as a curt remark or even a frustrated tone can impact another person and turn a positive or neutral encounter into a sour one. The “ripple” comes into play when the other person then absorbs the negativity and is nasty to the next person.
Picture the scene: hurried mama in the morning asks her 11-year-old daughter to unload the dishwasher before school; daughter sighs, stomps her feet and begrudgingly unloads the dishwasher—grumbling the entire time; mama drives to work—crabby that her daughter’s tone stressed her out and sapped the joy out of her morning—and refuses to let a car into her lane; that driver cuts someone else off and is treated to a loud car horn blasting in protest. The list goes on and on. Each action can impact another person for good or for bad. We can choose to lift each other up or drag each other down.
My resolution is to choose to see the best in others—deserving or not, and to embrace joy, especially on those days when things go wrong. Often it’s the up-ended coffee cup while driving in traffic, the last-minute frustrating phone call from a trouble-making colleague or family member, or the nuisance of sleep deprivation from an all-night flu that can rob us of joy before the day is well into the morning.
With the death of so many well-known actors, journalists, musicians and others such as Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Harper Lee, John Glenn, Nancy Reagan, Garry Shandling, Patty Duke, Doris Roberts, Muhammad Ali, Prince, Elie Wiesel, Garry Marshall, John McLaughlin, Gene Wilder, Janet Reno, Gwen Ifil, Florence Henderson, Arnold Palmer, Alan Thicke, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds, among others—we are reminded that life is, indeed, short. We hold our loved ones a little closer and pause to remember the good things about those who touched our lives even for a few moments. But the glaring reminder is that the life feels too valuable, to short, to allow negativity the power it often holds.
Isn’t it too short to let bad moods ruin the day? And worse… ruin another’s day out of self-absorption or refusal to embrace the gifts of each day with humility and a grateful heart?
So I am poised to embrace 2017 with joy—and hopefully able to spread ripples of positivity wherever I go.