HERE IS AN inspirational quote from Ralph Emerson for the new year. “What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within us out into the world, miracles happen.”

Did you make any resolutions for 2020? Many people make the same resolutions every year, only to break them in a matter of weeks or months. The key is to make realistic resolutions. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Maybe we should make a series of resolutions: say you will try to do certain things the first quarter, a different challenge in the spring and so forth.

Tell yourself you will not back away from challenges and remember they are opportunities to grow. Say you will face your challenges with optimism and enthusiasm. Your results will be a direct reflection of your viewpoint. Focus on the positive.

Tell yourself you will look for reasons to laugh each day. When you find them, you will laugh with gusto and exuberance. Laughing and good humor are not only good for your mental attitude, but good for your digestive system as well. Set aside time every day to have fun.

Put another way, here are the words of Christian Larson. 

He wants us to promise ourselves to be so strong nothing can disturb our peace of mind; to talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person we meet; to make all our friends feel that there is something in them; to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as we are about our own; to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future and finally, to be too large for worry, noble for anger, strong for fear and happy to permit the presence of trouble.



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WINTER CAME really early this season. That can be depressing. Dealing with winter weather might not be as bad as surviving the devastation of hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires and drought. A friend sent me the following short stories several years ago that makes us think twice about the daily happenings in our lives as we deal with things that really matter.

1. Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying. And just before he died, he licked the tears off my face.

2. Today, I interviewed my grandmother for part of a research paper I’m working on for my psychology class. When I asked her to define success, she said “Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you smile.”

3. Today, I asked my mentor, a very successful businessman in his 70s, what his top three tips are for success. He smiled and said “Read something no one else is reading, think something no one else is thinking and do something no one else is doing.”

4. Today, after my 72-hour shift at the fire station, a woman ran up to me at the grocery store and gave me a hug. When I tensed up, she realized I didn’t recognize her. She let go with tears of joy in her eyes and with the most sincere smile said “Sept. 11, 2001, you carried me out of the World Trade Center.”

5. Today, at 7 a.m., I woke up feeling ill, but decided I needed the money so I went into work. At 3 p.m., I got laid off. On my drive home, I got a flat tire. When I went into the trunk for the spare, it was flat, too. A man in a BMW pulled over, gave me a ride, we chatted and then, he offered me a job. I start tomorrow.

6. Today, as my father, three brothers and two sisters stood around my mother’s hospital bed, my mother uttered her last coherent words before she died. She simply said “I feel so loved right now. We should have gotten together like this more often.”

7. Today, I kissed my dad on the forehead as he died in a small hospital bed. About five seconds after he died, I realized it was the first time I had given him a kiss since I was a little boy.

8. Today, in the cutest voice, my 8-year-old daughter asked me to start recycling. I chuckled and asked “Why?” She replied, “So you can help me save the planet.” I chuckled again and asked “And why do you want to save the planet?” She said, “Because that’s where I keep all my stuff.”

9. Today, when I witnessed a 27-year-old breast cancer patient laughing hysterically at her 2-year-old daughter’s antics, I suddenly realized that I need to stop complaining about my life and start celebrating it again.

10. Today, a boy in a wheelchair saw me desperately struggling on crutches with my broken leg and offered to carry my backpack and books for me. He helped me all the way across campus to my class and as he was leaving he said, “I hope you feel better soon.”

11. Today, I was feeling down because the results of a biopsy came back malignant. When I got home, I opened an email that said, “Thinking of you today. If you need me, I’m a phone call away.” It was from a high school friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years.

12. Today, I was traveling in Kenya and I met a refugee from Zimbabwe. He said he hadn’t eaten anything in more than three days and looked extremely skinny and unhealthy. Then, my friend offered him the rest of the sandwich he was eating. The first thing the man said was “We can share it.”

These stories remind us that the best sermons are lived, not preached. Maybe one of the lessons will inspire you to perform an act of kindness or see an opportunity to pay it forward.