Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
It’s a new year, and most of us are glad to shake the dust of the challenges of 2021 from our shoes. We know what we want to leave behind in the ashbin of history, but what do we want to move toward?
When we think about that, we often start with a simple thought like “I want to move toward a better year with fewer challenges.” That’s fine, but to actually help ourselves get to that place, we need more specific information. We need to define our vision of a better place. We need to identify what makes it a better place in our view.
As we think about the specifics, they become clearer in our minds. What had been a gray area starts to fill first with opaque colors. The more we think, the bolder the colors become until we’ve gotten very specific with exactly what we would love to see in our lives and what we do not want to see.
Now many stop thinking right there. Once they have a clear picture in mind, they consider the work done. But the truth is only half of the work is done. Why?
Because we haven’t actually done anything to make our lives better. At best, the painting is only half-done. It’s like planning a trip. You make the reservations, map out the path to your destination, pack and do all the things to prepare for your trip, but you haven’t actually gone anywhere just yet. You prepare, and then you go.
Preparation is like faith. You prepare believing you’ll go on that trip.
We’ve all heard about faith without action. This is the same principle. Yes, identifying what makes life better for us is critical. But vital as well is continuing on in our thoughts, focusing on concrete actions that help us get from where we are to where we want to be.
These movements can be little things or big things. For a child, the wish might be for better dental checkups. Less time in a dentist’s chair would make a child’s life better. So, the action to get there would be to brush and floss morning and night and after meals.
For adults, the formula is the same:
1. Define the challenge and your vision of life without it.
2. Identify reasonable things you can do to remove the challenge.
3. Act to bring your vision to your life.
That’s living deliberately. That’s doing what you can to make your life more of what you want and less of what you don’t want.
Note the Bible verse above. Where we are instructed to focus our energy and our thoughts. Simply put, it’s on the good things. The message on this is clear and simple, and the impact is profound.
Too often people focus on the challenges to the exclusion of the blessings. The above verse makes it clear that’s a mistake. It cautions us to be positive and constructive, grateful and to focus on the good.
There’s a key to a door of peace in that verse. When you focus on good, you think on good, you tend to do good. That makes for fewer challenges and more contentment all on its own. But when you deliberately act to do good things to get to your better, you multiply the potential for achieving it.
True, you might not get the better you envisioned, but you’ll get closer to it. Or perhaps you’ll exceed it. Gain more than you envisioned. That’s possible, too.
Taking the lessons from the verse, doing what you can to define not only what you need to make life better, but to also define existing things that make life good you’d like more of in your life. Acting on both.
When you act on both, you minimize specific challenges you want out of your life and maximize good things in your life that you want more of in your life.
With each action you take and sustain, you enhance life and the colors in it grow bolder and bolder.
And that’s living in color.
Wishing you all a colorful and blessed new year!