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A new way of looking at New Year’s resolutions

A new year means resolutions, right? But we’re all so busy. After all, we live in a world bound by time. While some people measure out their lives in coffee spoons, as the poet TS Eliot once famously wrote, most of us measure out our lives in years, months, weeks, hours, minutes and seconds. Time… Like water we try to hold in our hands, time is constantly slipping away from us.

We also live in a world where many people — from our favourite priests to self-help gurus, to journalists, to Oprah — tell us that in order to be successful in our day-to-day lives, we must live in the “now.” We need to live, fully present, in the present. Even Jesus directs us to live in the now, for “the kingdom of God is at hand.” Heaven on earth is always happening in our very midst. Oftentimes, we don’t see it because we’re focusing on something other than God.

But have you ever tried to live in the now? It’s really hard. Just as soon as we try to grab hold of it — as soon as we try to live in the present moment, well, the now changes and becomes the past. And that moment is gone forever. To be alive as a human being in this world is to exist in a perpetual state of change.

But as daunting as it is for most of us to fully live in the now, I do think that we can edge a little closer to the now, which is to say a little closer to God, and by doing so we can.

How can we do this? Through something I like to call a “microshift.”

A microshift is a small change in the way we do things, in the way that we perceive life, in the actions we take. These microshifts, over time, can lead to big results. What would happen if we took just 1 percent of our day and directed that time to change either ourselves or the world around us?

Keep the other 99 percent of your day to take care of your family, to work, to go to Mass, to attend school, to study, to sleep, to hang out on social media, watch cute kitten videos or post selfies. You can keep all that. But what are some small things we can do that could change a life?

In lieu of New Year’s resolutions, I offer some microshifts we can do anytime, but why not try them out this January and see what happens: commit to pick up your elderly neighbour’s garbage bin, make a sandwich and offer to a homeless person, plant flowers and cultivate a prayer garden, call your mom, keep a gratitude journal, allow someone to go ahead of you in a checkout line at a store, decide to forgive someone, laugh, etc.

That’s a resolution we can all get behind. The trick, as always, is to keep it going. But when you’re really doing something for God, suddenly whatever effort it takes doesn’t seem like effort at all. Instead, it feels like a blessing. – Gary Jansen @

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