What did you resolve to do on December 31? We can trace this practice back to ancient cultures and people like the Babylonians, who are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions or the ancient Romans, whose reform-minded emperor, Julius Caesar, tinkered with the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the New Year. January, named for the Roman god, Janus (the two faced god who inhabited doorways and arches) had special significance for the Romans because it symbolized looking back into the past year and forward into the new. Many people still follow the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions, even though research says only about 8% of those who make a vow on New Year’s Eve are successful at keeping the promise in the New Year. A dismal statistic for sure, but should it mean we stop the practice of taking stock of our lives and trying to improve? I think not! I would recommend a change in how to approach the promise of a new year – find a positive focus. Much of the time, we are critical of ourselves and others. Let’s change it up in 2016 and look for the good in all we do and all that happens. I recently came across this story that illustrates the point.
The story is told of an African King who had a close friend with whom he grew up.
The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, “This is good!”
One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off.
Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual, “This is good!” To which the king replied – “No, this is not good!” And proceeded to send his friend to jail.
About a year later, the king was hunting in an area of which he should have known to stay clear. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. So, untying the king, they sent him on his way.
As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. “You were right,” he said, “it was good that my thumb was blown off.” He proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened.
“And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this.”
“No,” his friend replied, “This is good!”
“What do you mean, ‘This is good’? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?”
“If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you and not here with you right now.”
In a very unusual way, the message here unfolds into exposing the following principle about life. “Absolutely everything happens for a purpose and out of what seems like adversity at the time, always comes good”.
I’m sure that if any of us care to reflect back on the tragedy’s, the heartaches, the ‘bad times’ in our lives, we discover that we have really grown or developed during that period of time – even though the reflection may still cause us discomfort in some way.
It is in this way, that we slowly gather experience and wisdom. Even though we may think or feel that it is unfair, that’s the way it is. “This is good.”
How will you look for the good in 2016? Share your comments here.