Jim Denison is the founder and CEO of the Denison Forum, a nonprofit Christian media organization that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.We can blame—or thank—the Babylonians. Four thousand years ago, they began a twelve-day religious festival known as Akitu, in which they focused on celebrating the coming of the new year.
During this festival, they made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return objects they had borrowed. If they kept these promises, their gods would favor them, or so they believed. If they did not, they would face the gods’ wrath.
From the ancient Babylonians, we inherited the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. Though without the fear of divine judgment, I presume.
SEVEN SCIENCE-BASED STRATEGIES
Researchers say about 60 percent of us make resolutions each new year. That’s a remarkable figure. It’s higher than the percentage of Americans who vote in presidential elections or the percentage of Americans ages eighteen and older who are married.
However, researchers report that only about 8 percent of us are successful at keeping the resolutions we make. How can we do better? Here are seven science-based strategies:
- Pick a theme for your year based on what changes would make you happiest, then develop habits during the year to fulfill it.
- Enhance habits by identifying what motivates them and finding better ways to meet that underlying need.
- Begin forming a habit by working on it for only two minutes, then gradually increase your commitment.
- Identify a positive, intrinsic reward (such as renewed energy or a feeling of peace) to reinforce positive actions and habits.
- Modify your environment—post reminders of your plans, remove temptations, and spend time with people who share your goals.
MAKE A RECOVERY PLAN FOR DEALING WITH TEMPTATIONS AND FAILURES.
Celebrate often since such behavior reinforces good habits and encourages the brain to seek more opportunities to engage in them.
All good advice. But since we are fallen people, we are still likely to fall. Let’s end the year by considering three biblical resolutions that will redeem even our challenges and change our culture.
VIEW DAILY OBSTACLES AS TRANSCENDENT OPPORTUNITIES.
Jesus taught that not even a sparrow can fall to the ground “apart from your Father” (John 10:29). Every circumstance and challenge is an invitation to make a difference that matters.
For example, NASA astronaut Jessica Meir wanted to join in the Hanukkah celebration that ended last night. The problem was, she is working aboard the International Space Station, orbiting 220 miles above our planet.
So she took a picture of her blue-and-neon-colored Hanukkah socks, complete with a Menorah and a Star of David, with Earth floating in the background. Her picture has gone viral.
If we’ll ask how we can use our present challenges for greater good, we’ll find an answer to our question. Loving our neighbor as ourselves is always the will of God (Matthew 22:39).
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Source: Christian Headlines