Happy New Year
by Doyle Ranstrom on Dec 29, 2019
Recently, an elderly relative of mine who is in her 90's, told me her New Year's Resolution was to "not drink anymore". Then she said, she "was not going to drink any less, just not any more".
I was cross country skiing recently thinking about New Years Resolutions. Though my relative may have success with her Resolution, I have not had success with New Years Resolutions in the past.
For example in Junior High when I first learned about New Years Resolutions, I made a resolution to be taller. It is still pending. I have managed to master horizontal growth.
A few years ago I made a resolution to become better looking. I then shared it with my wife. Sadly this did not happen. In retrospect, I probably should not have told her my Resolution in advance and got her hopes up.
So it is with a poor track record, I have decided to make a Resolution for 2020. My resolution is to strive to live with more joy.
I would suggest joy and happiness are different. Happiness is external, it comes from parts of life that happen to you. Joy is internal, it is an approach to life.
When in Portland, OR visiting our daughter, my wife and I attend a local church of which the Pastor and I have become good friends. This is a church where all are welcome and believes its mission is to help those in poverty, be a continual voice against violence and discrimination, support refugees, work towards prison reform, and promote civility and compassion in all engagements. Both their calendar and newsletter are a documented record of all they do and have accomplished.
At the Christmas Eve service, the pastor talked about living a life of joy. Just like hate can be contagious, so is joy. It is an approach to life.
Joy will be a challenge for me. Happy I can do once and awhile. I excel at grumpy, sad, frustrated, and angry. But approaching life with a perspective of internal joy, that may be harder for me than getting taller or becoming better looking.
But I get the concept. The pastor mentioned an example of a community in Massachusetts where a family's daughter was born deaf. She learned sign language by age two but was frustrated when none of her neighbors could understand her. Some neighbors, starting with four and increasing to forty learned sign language so they could communicate with this little girl. I suspect this is an example of a community living in joy.
Maybe another example of living in joy from a long term perspective is sexism. My mother, as a widow, single parent, and teacher dealt with sexism. My wife has dealt with sexism. So have my daughter and daughter-in-law as well as almost any other woman out there. Though the journey for women has been very difficult, and progress has been slow with pushbacks, it is better today then it was for mother. Maybe living in joy is knowing though the battle continues and there will be hardships along with setbacks, but there will come a time when sexism will no longer exist or any of the other isms for that matter.
I am not sure someone like me, with my personality, or more accurately lack of personality, live a life joy, but minimally, it is a worthwhile New Years Resolution. Happy New Year to all.