I Can Start Over Again

I Can Start Over Again

Daniel West

We’ve all been there. You’re hanging out with a group of people on December 31. Perhaps you’re talking to someone, you hit a lull in the conversation, and they ask “So, what are your New Year’s resolutions?” You pause, perhaps because you haven’t thought about that yet, and possibly because you have thought about it, but telling another person what your thoughts are forces you to commit. Do you even remember what your resolutions were last December 31?

If not, why not?

This hinges on two concepts with which people who believe in deity are familiar: hope and faith. In order to follow through with a resolution–New Year’s or otherwise–we need both. When we only hope for things, we want an outcome to be good, but we are unsure of what it is or what we should do to ensure the outcome occurs. Faith gives us the direction and focus we need to get the results we desire.

I had some Army training at Fort Knox, Kentucky this summer. There were many events that measured my Soldiering skills, one of which was a shooting range. On the range, we had to shoot at 40 silhouettes that would pop up for a few seconds at a time at distances from 50 to 300 meters. To pass the course, we had to hit at least 23. When it was my turn to shoot, my eye protection fogged up, (Kentucky is quite humid) I had trouble getting a proper sight picture, and I did not hit enough targets.

Thankfully, I had a second chance. I could have gotten right back in line, drawn more ammo, and hoped for a better result. I realized that this probably wouldn’t have worked, so I exercised faith. I knew that I was capable of shooting better than I did, and I took the steps to get the result I needed. I took some basic marksmanship advice from one of the sergeants, watched the targets for a while to see exactly how long I had to shoot at each one, and did one other important thing: I prayed.

“Heavenly Father,” I said “I know that you can’t make me a better shot, but could you please keep my glasses from fogging up?” I took what I had learned, as well as the extra strength that I gained from prayer, and went back to the line. My glasses remained clear, and I hit 35 of the 40 targets.

Another key part of having the faith to keep resolutions is to share it! Find someone you can trust, and tell them what you’re doing and why. Whether you’re writing a book, going to the gym, or learning a new skill, you are more likely to follow through if someone else knows. Finally, counsel with whatever god you believe in daily, and gain strength through prayer and meditation.

If you make a resolution for 2018, exercise faith. You have a book full of blank pages upon which to write the next chapters of your life. Have a sure outcome in mind, and make some solid goals and plans. As you trust in God, trust in yourself, and meet those goals one by one, next year you will be able to say that you resolved to do something and you did it.

Why Better Habits Begin with Faith

Why Better Habits Begin with Faith

Linda Clyde

Faith Teaches Us to be grateful

Habits: The Building Materials That Shape Your Life

It’s well known that humans are creatures of habit, but how many of our habits are leading us toward our greatest potential? Whether we realize it or not, every human life is largely the sum of the habits of that individual. Our habits are the building blocks that shape our lives.

Do you love your life? If the answer isn’t a resounding yes, take comfort in knowing that turning things around may be as simple as changing a habit or two. Although, we all know that “simple” isn’t always the word that describes the process of changing an ingrained habit. It can be really hard! But it’s worth the effort.

Turning your life into an experience that you love to wake up to each day, all boils down to observing the daily habits that aren’t serving you well and then making small changes to get you moving in the right direction. American author, John C. Maxwell was spot-on when he said, “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” Sounds simple, right? It can be if we’re careful to focus on our present efforts vs. the potentially long journey ahead.

Faith: A Key Ingredient for Positive Change

Change requires a leap of faith. The first step to changing your habits is believing that you can. If the thought of change or starting a new habit overwhelms you, start smaller. We can easily trick ourselves into giving up before we even get started because change can be extremely overwhelming. Concentrate on small, manageable changes in habit and celebrate every success. For example, if you never exercise, but know that you should, don’t start with a 5K, go for a short walk instead. If you struggle to keep your temper, take the edge off of your next tirade by counting to 10 first. Healthy habits require discipline, and they’re always rewarded with more personal strength to do even better the next time.

Fitness guru Jillian Michaels said, “It’s not about perfect. It’s about effort. And when you bring that effort every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs.” Speaking of failure, she also had valuable advice for those who get upset when they fall short. “Part of abandoning the all-or-nothing mentality is allowing yourself room for setbacks. We are bound to have lapses on the road to health and wellness, but it is critical that we learn how to handle small failures positively so that we can minimize their long-term destructive effects. One setback is one setback—it’s not the end of the world, nor is it the end of your journey toward a better you.”

A Writing Exercise

So, where should you start? How do you identify the habits you have that are keeping you from progressing? To find out, try this helpful writing exercise:

Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Sit down with pen and paper, or if you have an aversion to primitive writing materials, any modern device with word processing capabilities will do. Ask yourself this question: What habits in my life are keeping me from my potential? Think about it. Be honest with yourself, and write down what comes to you.

Tapping into your internal reservoir of wisdom will quickly reveal how much you really know and understand about your habits and how they’re shaping your life. Habits, large and small, affect our daily living in either positive or negative ways. It’s the habits that are holding us back that need our careful scrutiny. It’s the habits that have led us to places we never really wanted to be that we’ve got to tackle first. Once you’ve identified these habits, the next question to ask yourself is the following: In what ways can I change or replace the habits that are keeping me from my potential? Write down what comes to you. There, now you have an action plan. But remember, start small.

The Best Habits

Life is about improvement and growth. Each day, each moment is a new opportunity to do a little better, get a little stronger, and be a little happier. Your habits should be working for you, not against you, and the exciting part is that you have the power and ability to use them right now to mold your life into a joyful experience. It’s all up to you.

A bit of online research revealed that countless others are using the following habits to lead them to more happiness and productivity in their lives. Perhaps developing just one of these habits could have the power to change your life.

  • Wake up early
  • Create and follow a morning and evening routine
  • Meditate or pray daily
  • Express daily gratitude
  • Smile more
  • Eat a healthy breakfast
  • Exercise
  • Procrastinate less
  • Set daily goals and actively work on them
  • Get organized
  • Save and invest
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Keep a journal
  • Read 30 minutes a day
  • Look your best
  • Simplify

After all, “We first make our habits and then our habits make us.” –John Dryden

Linda Clyde is a devoted wife, proud mama, and a lover of uplifting things. A few of her favorite things: lasagna, farm animals, t-shirts and jeans, babies, and notebooks—lots and lots of notebooks.

15 Tips to Stay Spiritually Fit in 2015

15 Tips to Stay Spiritually Fit in 2015

15 tips to stay spiritually fit in 2015

We’re two weeks into the year and—congratulations—so far you’ve stuck to your guns. Each morning, in the grand tradition of the New Year’s resolution, you roll from bed and into a rigamarole of Pilates classes, kale smoothies, and get-behind-me-Krispy-Kreme.

But as you whip yourself into shape this year, don’t neglect to work your spiritual muscles too. Strengthen your spirituality in 2015 with these fifteen exercises.

Get Lost in a Good Book

Rescue your library card from the blackhole beneath your sofa cushions and hit the books this year. Start a blog and share the passages that inspire you.


Take a Hike

You look like you could use some fresh air. Pack yourself some sandwiches and head for the hills to clear your mind and marvel at the natural world.

Take a page from Henry David Thoreau: “We need the tonic of wildness…. We can never have enough of nature.”


Paint Your Masterpiece

Unleash your inner-artiste. Write a poem, make an app, sew a dress. Use your unique talents to express who you are.


Lift Your Mood with Music

Whether you’re playing the guitar or just hitting “Play,” music is a powerful muse. Put those high school saxophone lessons to use and make some noise.


Do Some Good

Get off your duff and help a brother out. As you lift other people’s burdens, your own will start to feel lighter.


Say Your Prayers

A prayer is a phone call to a higher power. Dial in to give thanks and ask for help. Or lose yourself in meditation and find your spiritual center in quiet reflection.


Try Something New

Get unstuck from your rut. Break your routine and do something you’ve never done before, whether it’s backpacking in Patagonia or walking the the long, scenic way home.

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.”
—Dalai Lama


You Are Here—Be Here

Put your phone in your pocket and take a break from Words with Friends to have some actual words with your friends. Pay attention, take interest in people, and be present.


Get to Work

Manning the banana stand for the summer or running the company—whatever your gig, do your best work. When you put in not just the hours but your best effort, you’ll enjoy both the paycheck and the satisfaction of a job well done.

“To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.”
—Pearl S. Buck


Say Thank You

“What do we say?” your mom prompted you as a kid when Uncle Ted handed you a snow cone. Moms know best. Take time to write a letter and say thanks to someone who’s made a difference in your life.


Let Go of Grudges

Carrying a grudge is like carrying a huge boulder everywhere you go: it will only leave you feeling sore and looking like a crazy person. May your fences and beefs be mended and settled respectively.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
—Mahatma Gandhi


Eat, Sleep, and Be Healthy

Your body is the car your spirit rides through life in. Keep it tuned up with adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise.


Make Your Space Sacred

Make your home a peaceful place. Fill it with reminders of what matters most—your family, your faith, and whatever else inspires you.


Look at the Big Picture

We fixate on small, daily concerns and sometimes forget about the big, long-term ones. Take a step back and put things in perspective.

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


Enjoy Life

Life can be a mess, but it’s a big beautiful mess all the same, and there are countless pleasures to be plucked from it, even though sometimes they’re buried down deep. Dig in.