"New Year's Day is every man's birthday."
A fresh start! We all appreciate that. Some even crave it. A new year can be the catalyst for a healthy turn-around as we focus our best efforts on what's important to our well-being.
There is nothing magical in flipping the calendar. But there is something appealing about closing the door on unhealthy behaviors and their consequences. A healthy, new beginning can result when one gives him or herself permission to leave behind past failings. The next step is to solidify in some practical manner the positive steps required to achieve our wellness goals.
Positive health is an emerging concept that an interdisciplinary team is investigating with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This pioneering approach to health promotes patients' health assets while focusing on key factors that include subjective influences like optimism. This can add to a healthier and longer life according to the organization. But what happens when optimism wanes? Staying on track where health resolutions are involved can be difficult. Skeptical of positive outcomes, Mark Twain once remarked, "Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever."
Despite our best intentions, positive thinking is often sidetracked by the frustrations that come with slow or no progress as well as the unflinching determination required to succeed. When looking to fortify a push toward better health and sustain a positive agenda, we can't overlook the best asset we have, God's wisdom, love and joy for us.
The Bible offers some immediate aid:
"Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old." (Isaiah)
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah)
"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old thing are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (Paul to the Corinthians)
"Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." (Paul to the Ephesians)
"I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee." (Jeremiah)
When the weight of past shortcomings derails your efforts for reform, take to heart the encouraging words of singer, song writer, Mindy Jostyn when thinking about God's love for you: "There's never a story that ever could change the glory of you in His eyes."
At the stroke of midnight New Year's Day many sing the traditional favorite, "Auld Lang Syne" (long, long, ago) - the quirky but comforting tune which offers up the question whether old times should be forgotten. "We'll take a cup of kindness," the old Scottish melody asserts. As the New Year unfolds, be kind to yourself. Don't let last year's inadequacies carry over into the potential of today.
Happy New Year. Happy birthday.
(Salt is a writer and blogger covering health, spirituality and thought. He is a Christian Science practitioner.)