Its that time of year again when so many of us looks at the things we haven’t done or wish we could do and make promises to ourselves that that this year will be different.
This year I will be healthier, eat less, exercise more, complain less, be a better person…..you fill in the blank.
As commendable as many of those intentions are, you can be pretty confident that within a few weeks for most people they will fall by the wayside and be forgotten.
Why is that?
Why are good intentions so often doomed to failure?
How we see the world, affects what we do and in turn that affects the results that we get. So to get to the root if we want to change our behaviour we have to change the way we look at things.
If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got. But change the way you look at something and you will begin to change what you do and ultimately the results that you get.
Whatever it is that you want to change you have to ask yourself the question why?
If you can get excited and motivated by the reason why, then the what will flow naturally.
The key is being able to change your level of thinking. We mentioned in the post on paradigms the following quote by Einstein:
“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we had when we first created them.“
So although I may not necessarily believe in new year resolutions I certainly do believe in the ability of us as human beings being able to bring about profound and deep lasting change to our lives. This time of year it is certainly good to reflect on the past 12 months and make plans for the coming year, but beware of the temptation to think I just need to try harder.
On the one hand, our past does not have to predict our future. As quoted in the film ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’:
Don’t let your past dictate who you are, but let it be a part of who you become.
It is in the power to choose that we can be able to create our future rather than be a slave to our past. But, on the other hand, I also believe that lasting change is only possible through the grace of God.
John Newton (1725-1807), who was a slave trader and had a profound personal change and awakening in his life was able to say:
“By the grace of God, I am what I am. I’m not what I want to be, but I thank God I am not what I once was.”
I love that quote as it beautifully captures the tension of being content where I am and at the same time being ambitious for the potential that God has for me.
As a disciple of Christ I can also take that a step further by dwelling in the realisation that God accepts me not through my performance, but the finished work of Christ on the cross. The more that takes hold of me the more the more the pressure comes off as I become less focussed on how I am doing or not doing. I am currently reading a book by J. D. Greer called ‘Gospel: recovering the power that made Christianity revolutionary.‘ In it he refers to the Gospel Prayer which I want to make a daily prayer for the rest of my life:
“In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more, and nothing I have done that makes You love me less.”
“Your presence and approval are all I need for everlasting joy.”
“As You have been to me, so I will be to others.”
“As I pray I’ll measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection.”
So in many ways my new year resolution, if I were to have one, would be to allow the truths of that prayer to go deeper into my life and dictate everything I say and do.
What are your thoughts on the potential for human change?
What role do you think faith and God has to play in human change? How much are we responsible for and how much should we leave to God?