Be the change you wish to see in the world

Beginning a new year means, for some people, trying to make changes in their lifestyle, health or personality. We call these changes "New Year Resolutions." Well, I have to tell you, I'm not good at sticking to new year resolutions. I've battled a growing waste-line for years; I've purchased all kinds of physical fitness equipment to get in shape; I've tried to eat more vegetables to be healthy. I've tried to do all those things that I know I need to do to be a healthier and happier person. But what usually happens is, I fall short of my goal, then I give up, and the rest of the year I'm subconsciously angry at myself for not being able to stick to my resolution. And I live through another year, and January comes around, and I try again, and again, and again. Are you like this?

Well, this year I'm doing something different. If you know anyone who attends the Methodist Church in town ask them what we're doing. I've challenged them to join me in doing "The Happiness Project." As a church we're reading Gretchen Rubin's book "The Happiness Project", one chapter at a time each month for 12 months. Each chapter is devoted to one aspect of a person's life that, if you can find something to improve in that area, you're be a happier person. The premise is that if you're happy, you have more energy, better relationships, think more clearly, and life becomes more pleasant.

I know skeptics will say "that's just a bunch of resolutions." Yes it is. But it's more than that. It's a way to look at life and say "I just want to be happier" and I'm going to work on that. Rubin says that happiness is contagious, and she's right. Just try being happy around family and friends for a day and see if their attitudes aren't more happy as well. Believe me, it works!

I don't know about you, but for me, 2012 was a very emotionally stressful and draining year. The long election campaigns, the devastating natural disasters (wildfires and hurricanes), the terrible mass murders and of course the congressional gridlock and the subsequent fiscal cliff situation all added up to a lot of "heaviness" in our country. I didn't live in the midst of those situations (thank God) but still they caused tremendous emotional stress throughout our nation. Psychology experts tell us that if we have a positive outlook on life (if we're happy with our life) we're better able to cope with such stressful situations.

I believe we all could agree that we want the world to be a happy place for our families and friends to live and thrive in. I know I want the world to be a healthy place where everyone can live in peace and harmony. I believe I can help that become a reality in my world, or more specifically in my part of God's world, if I can change my personal outlook on life. And if we all worked at it together. just imagine..

Gandi said "Be the change you wish to see in the world." I received a mug for Christmas with that saying on it, and I'm going to try to live it. I want to see a happier world, so I'm going to be a happier person this year. Will you join me? One good place to start is with "The Happiness Project." Purchase the book and get started. Then join us on the last Thursday of each month to discuss that month's chapter. Chapter One's discussion (on "Vitality") will be Jan. 31st at 6:30 p.m. at the church. If you have any questions, give me a call at 573-0335.

Rick Carpenter is the pas­tor at the United Method­ist Church in Dolores and the First United Methodist Church in Dove Creek.