While January 1 is just a date on a calendar, it represents an opportunity for us to take notice of where we are and where we hope to go. Like many of you, I have tried and failed at resolutions over the years. I have achieved several, the most notable was to stop making resolutions I couldn’t turn into habits. Habits are lifestyle changes that we incorporate over a period of time. The old saying goes “it takes seven weeks to make a habit,” but that is too simple. A habit is a decision to not just resolve to do something but to actually do it.
This year, more than any other, requires us to do more than hope that things will get better. We need to practice the habit of making our lives better. It starts with reminding ourselves that we can all make a difference in the world. There are any number of groups, local and large, who need our financial help, including this congregation. But beyond that, every small practice we start with can lead to a new habit. I have begun keeping a gratitude journal. Every morning as part of my spiritual practice I write down the people, practices and institutions I am thankful for and why. I do believe that this intention, this habit, is sending out good energy into the world. I am also increasing the number of thank you’s I write. I like to write cards as a way to thank you and so many others for the work you all are doing in this pandemic. As the recipient of your thank you’s, I am buoyed on with the work I need to do.
So, what will be your new habits for 2021, the year of our emerging new normal? In the book Atomic Habits, author James Clear writes, “We often dismiss small changes because they don’t seem to matter very much in the moment.” I am here to tell you, resolve to do one small thing and watch how it changes you and the world. A call to make lunches for the homeless under the John Street Bridge in Bridgeport last spring has led to the weekly institution of a small army of lunch makers in our congregation. Lunches complete with gourmet chips, notes of encouragement and even menus printed on the bag. That habit by so many in our community has delivered just shy of 10,000 lunches.
So, as we start the New Year with more than our usual trepidation, I commend to you the practice of habit-making. Keep it small, but make it a regular part of your life and see how your world changes.
Blessings to you and yours this New Year,