Today's snow has hushed the land outside my window, creating just the right moment to reflect on the year ahead.
Every blog, column, magazine and newspaper has just finished with their ten best/worst of 2009 and their trendy predictions for everything form the economy to fashion for 2010.
2010 will be an interesting year, with elections looming, global crises ever-present and most folks hoping that their families will be well and that they can take some positive steps forward.
I am eschewing predictions, prognostications and resolutions in favor of "The Top Ten Ways to be Content Regardless of Economies, Egos and Elections."
Democrat, Green, Libertarian or Republican, Emerging or Liturgical Church Member, Believer or Skeptic, if you believe that the pieces of our lives need to cohere and that Love is still possible, take a look:
1. Enjoy God. Whatever your tradition, make sure it is more than ceremonial or cursory. Take your faith seriously. Learn more. Ask more questions. Pray with faith and expect God to answer. If you are a skeptic, ask yourself whether your agnosticism or atheism is born of rational reflection or emotional reaction and start a dialogue with a person of intelligent faith. If you are a believer in God, start conversing with someone outside your world-view and allow your mind to be tested. Everyone benefits when serious conversations ensue without personal rancor or ad hominem attacks.
2. Enjoy Life and Spend Less. Let's teach our politicians that we can live well within our means. Let's teach those mindless Infomercial schemers that the keys to weight-loss remain good diet and moderate exercise, without the frozen meals, miracle machines or magic pills.
3. Enjoy Your Marriage and Family. If you are married, "Love the One You're With" as the song goes and stop comparing her or him to anyone else online, on TV or in the office. If we all had eight hours a day to workout and an unlimited budget, our bodies might look like the latest star - or not!. If you love your kids, love your spouse. If improvements are needed, start with yourself and see the impact of a selfless life.
4. Enjoy Unplugging. Once a week, take a Sabbath from all media and experience life without the cacophony of input that our Internet Age foists upon us. Yes, we need to stay informed, but we also need to reflect instead of react and that is not possible if our blood pressure rises every 30 minutes with the latest data blast. There is a big difference between information and insight. By the way, my students are still prohibited from using wikipedia as a source for research. There are better places to go for accurate information and analysis.
5. Enjoy Community. Worship with others. Volunteer to help kids and families, feed the poor or rescue abused animals. Have fun with others who share a passion for the outdoors or your sports of choice. Make 2010 even better by actually talking to these folks and getting to know them beyond their nicknames or usefulness.
6. Enjoy Work. Not all our labor is "fun." But we can enjoy work more if we bring daily gratitude and curiosity to the factory, office or store. Gratitude fosters humility and also makes us less vulnerable to petty insults and politics. Curiosity helps us find better ways of doing things, perhaps even investing new devices, services or systems that enrich everyone, from shareholders to end users.
7. Enjoy the World. Walk in the park more. Get off the computer and on a horse. Breath the scents of a botanical garden and feast your eyes on the masterpieces of the local museum and your child's classroom.
8. Enjoy Adding Value. Wake up each day with an aim to help someone move forward in their life. With such a disposition, your simple acts of kindness make you the answer to the prayers of others!
9. Enjoy Politics. Yes it is possible, IF we stay informed, stay honest with ourselves and hold all officials to the same standard, not just our "enemies." Get involved locally, helping a real person bring real good to a real region.
10. Enjoy Being You. Take some time for self-assessment. Let's make sure we are developing our strengths instead of complaining about our weaknesses. I will never be an operatic tenor; however, I can improve my writing. My future NBA career ended when I was still 5'6" tall and 135 pound as a sophomore in high school. But I can enjoy the gym and still beat most folks at ping pong!
Please notice that all of these points begin with "Enjoy." Our joy is the by-product of our choices to place first things first and live passionate and principled lives. Our feelings of happiness will vary with daily events. I am not suggesting a life that denies pain, loss and suffering - just the opposite. If we experience the wellspring of deep inner joy that comes from faith, hope and love aligned well, we will be able to have compassion and empathy for the hurting as well as the humility to ask for help when we need it most.
Let's enjoy 2010!