These days, it’s rare to find a person who would not agree that life and day to day living is becoming more and more challenging – what with the price hikes, inflation, lack of manpower, over-worked employees, mental-health crisis and depression at every level in demographic in society. Some of these things are hard to deal with but there has to be a solution to some of these. And the solution lies with us, at a personal level. There’s always something – no matter how big or small – that we can do to improve these challenges. It’s that time of the year again. A new start, a new beginning! Here are some of the ways we can alleviate some of the challenges plaguing our daily living.
1. Develop a habit of Prayer and Reflection
This one is first on my list, because I have experienced it personally and know it helps! Spending time in prayer (if you are a spiritual person) or even personal reflection and examination of your day, situation, actions or decisions goes a long way in creating a sense of purpose and objective which leads to improvement in the way we live personally and in society. Some may argue life is busy and there are only 24 hours in a day. Well guess what, there are 24 hours in a day!! Let that sink in – 24 hours, out of which all you have to do is find or make 15 mins of sincere prayer and/ or reflection. This could be the first thing you do in the morning before getting out of bed (set your alarm 15 minutes earlier!), during the day on your lunch break (everyone takes time out to have a meal), when you get home (do this while taking a shower), at the gym (while working out) or at the end of the day before retiring for the night. There are several apps available to facilitate prayer and meditation. Remember, prayer and reflection are great at a personal level and could also be beneficial if you do this as a couple, a family or even in a group with friends. Make time for prayer and reflection, trust me you will find the time!
2. Let ‘Declutter’ and ‘Organization’ be your new motto
They say a cluttered surrounding is a cause for a cluttered mind and distracted thoughts. Quite dangerous when you think about it in terms or family, career and life decisions. You owe to yourself to declutter, that is, remove unnecessary items from your living space that otherwise could lead to an untidy or overcrowded situation. Decluttering logically leads to better organization. ‘Where can I possibly declutter?’, you may ask yourself. Start small with what is easily and visually perceptible. This could be your living space – a closet or wardrobe, the kitchen or bathroom cabinets, a book shelf etc. Decluttering is the opposite of unnecessarily collecting and/ or hoarding. If you have things that have accumulated over the years at not being used, sell, donate or send them to the trash. There are several platforms such as Ebay, Poshmark, Mercari etc through which you could sell secondhand items you no longer use or need. At office you could organize and declutter your physical workspace. At the digital level, how about the old files, apps and software taking up space on your laptop or desktop. There are a million little ways you could declutter your life and living space. Given that some of us, while embarking on a cleanup exercise may get fully absorbed and even drowned in the task. We must be mindful of this but, nevertheless, try some of these solutions and who know, they may surprise you with the opportunities they open up!
3. Manage your Time wisely
From the above point of getting so absorbed in tasks (whatever these may be) that we may find ourselves helpless, frustrated or drowning in them, a smart way to combat this is to always be mindful of time. Time is a tricky thing and even ironic. We all have the belief that we are in control of our time – at least our personal time. Yet, if we hired a construction team (on our personal time) to redo our home, or hired a lawyer to advise us on a particular case, we might find we’re being billed by the minute. Are we still the master of our personal time? Or while absorbed in our hobbies, the clock runs out and we find we’ve neglected another more important task while enjoying our personal time to engage in our hobbies. The truth and fact are that Time is its own Master and none of us can control time – increase or decrease it. We can, however, effectively manage our time. The way to do this to remind ourselves of the 24 hours in the day and prioritize our tasks accordingly. What cannot be finished must be left for another day and another time and we can learn how to improve efficiency along the way.
4. Develop your Talents, conquer your Weaknesses
Everyone has talents. The Bible and scripture teach us this. What do we do with our talents is the question of significance? Are we even aware of what our particular talent could be? The way to find out is to engage in as many activities and opportunities as possible while we have the time and means. We discover some talents early in life – perhaps as a student- and then use the rest of our lives to develop and improve these, some even choosing their talents to become their careers! But others discover talents later in life as a result of something they did. Perhaps as part of training and development in their careers (my father for example in his youth worked in a bank with all its regular operational roles, but was later given an opportunity to work for their tech and security and discovered his calling as a software engineer thereafter!) Some may find it pursuing a hobby. Talents are in us and opportunities to discover them are all around us. Make it your mission to utilize your talents to your full potential. Doing this would necessarily involve getting over fears. People are unique in that we are all wired differently, having different kinds of fears. The fact is that fears are unfounded. What scares me may not scare others… so can it really be a fear? Again, a lot of our fears stem from a failure in the past, or a feeling of inadequacy. But these too are only instances, separated by time, circumstances and maturity. For example, should an adult still be afraid of something that scared them as a child, even though they are now grown and may better understand the thing that sacred them? Fear only holds us back from developing our talents. Make a decision today to Explore your talents by conquering your fears!
5. Decide to form your Own Conscience
Conscience, much like time, can be a tricky thing. We do not always understand our conscience and therefore not as much in control of it as we think we may be. Most of us would define conscience as that little voice in our head telling us what is good and what is bad. In fact, most people feel their conscience is truth. This is a big mistake that is often misguided and leads us into most of our problems. The truth is that unlike natural law that exists as truth in the universe, conscience is subjective, meaning that it is capable of error.
Conscience and more importantly moral conscience, therefore to avoid error, needs to be properly formed and then consciously developed to a stable degree to which one can honestly rely on their conscience to make sound, rational and ethical decisions. More often then not, bad decisions are made, because of an ill-informed or not fully developed conscience.
It is important to note that conscience is introduced and developed early in life. The earlier the conscience is nurtured and developed, the better the over-all quality of life later on. It is never too late, however to form and develop our conscience.
The Catholic Church teaches that some of the important ways to develop a conscience is the practice of virtues (good habits) and avoidance of vices (bad habits). Regular confession, acts of repentance and reparation, and acceptance of responsibility are some of the ways to develop a reliable conscience
6. Work on your Self-Awareness
Thanks to the excessive exposure to and availability of technology, all of us – young and old- find ourselves more distracted today than our grandparents and past generations. Technology has a way of engaging us ALL the time. This a distraction that has a direct impact on our ability to focus on the external (things outside of us) as well as internal – our own self-awareness. A lack of self-awareness, like a lack of moral conscience, can not only lead to getting us into trouble and making bad choices, but also impacts the opinion others may have of us. When we look distracted because we are not aware of ourselves, it tells people around us that they are not important. Similarly, our behaviors both in the physical as well as digital online world – the way we walk, talk and present ourselves, the things we do and say – either because of our lack or awareness or possession of self-awareness can dictate our success in life. Self-awareness can destroy or create opportunities. If you were not aware of yourself and the impact you may be having on the world around you, now is a good time to start!
7. Build Real Relationships, not online ones
Gone are the days of real, true, in thick or thin friendships. It is becoming more and more common for young people and kids these days to spend more time online than in the real physical world. Thanks to Facebook’s Metaverse and other similar online offerings, the possibility of avoiding the real world and escaping into an anonymous one is becoming a dangerous reality. Yet scientific research, studies and good old common sense has shown that real relationship and verbal – physical communication with actual people in actual relationships feed one’s need for love, friendship and a sense of community. Those that engage in real relationship have a tendency to be more grateful, happier, mentally and emotionally stronger than those who lack these relationships and who tend to be more isolated and depressed. Remember: No man can live as an island and nothing can substitute real communion with other human beings or creation all around us. Human relationships build us up, no matter how brief they may be. A hello to your regular barista or can driver to work, a smile, handshake or hug you give or receive from a classmate, a friend, a colleague or a stranger goes a long way in feeding our souls.
8. Be Original and Creative
In a world that has become so lazy that modern day movies, music, products and videogames are just a copy-cat and rip off of an older better version, originality and creativity is absolutely vital if we wish to progress.
Being creative and original is not just meant for students writing essays or scientific papers, or for the poet composing poetry or an artist trying to create art. Creativity and Originality is meant for all and in every sphere of life. It starts with originality of thought. This does not mean creating new realities or distorting facts to suit our narratives. Thinking creatively means finding solutions to problems, getting along together, building new visions. Going with the flow and absorbing the thoughts, actions and opinions of others without clearly thinking on our own or without any conviction of our own is being the opposite of original. Choose to be original in your thoughts this new year and put those original thoughts into your own creativity!
9. Waste Not – Want Not
An oldie but goldie. Translated, this means being conscious of resources – all resources- no matter to who it belongs. It could be energy sources – water, electricity, fuel and other utilities we pay for and utilize on a daily basis. It could also be our own time, our talents and intellect, or our spirituality. It could also be the things those around us own or possess – their time and resources, or simply their love, attention and goodwill. To be mindful of these means not to abuse them as nothing is infinite. Everything runs out – water, fuel and even patience. Be happy with less. Use the less well. Recycle and share surplus with others and be grateful for the extras.
So, there you have it 9 ethical resolutions for the new year and a new you! We hope these tips have been helpful. You do not have to adopt all of them this year, but even if you follow some of these good habits in the next few months, you’ll be on your way to a better you! Good luck and push forward and onward.