Here we are at the beginning of a new year - an opportunity to start over again and get it right this time. But what is 'right'? What changes do we really need to make? I invite you to consider making changes in your life that aren't focused on self-improvement so much as increasing the amount of Joy in your life. There's nothing wrong with self-improvement, but it's important to undertake that quest with complete acceptance of who we are right now. Sound paradoxical? Maybe, but the truth is that when we love ourselves exactly as we are, accepting the good with the flaws, we create the energy necessary to understand which changes we need to make, while still allowing for imperfections.
So let's just pretend that there aren't any big self-improvement jobs needed in 2008, and look at what would bring more Joy into our lives. This will be different for everyone, and for those who aren't used to thinking in terms of Joy, it may take some shifting of your attention and energy. I believe that God wants us to have all the Joy that we can stand, and will help us acquire it, but it's up to us to determine what it is that makes us Joyful. I also believe that Joy can be found in the small thins as well as the big ones, and that it behooves us to pay attention to everything that makes us smile, not just the big, obvious things (like a 2005 yellow Thunderbird). I'm more of a dog person, but for some people, a kitten's purr brightens up their day. For others, a big bouquet of live flowers in the middle of winter brings a smile to their faces. The examples I can think of don't really matter - the ones you can think of do. So imagine all the things, people, sights, sounds, smells, etc. that bring you Joy and resolve to bring more of them into your life. And you just may find that you're so satisfied with your life as it is, that self-improvement happens on its own. Have a Blessed, Joyful New Year!