Jay Rifenbary

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Resolutions - A Year Round Responsibility


How many New Year's resolutions come and go, only to be thought of again as the end of the following year approaches? Resolutions are nice to have; acting on them is rarely easy to do. To have a resolution is a commitment to change a behavior, and no wonder they fade into the shadows of spring. To be resolute is the core value that provides the foundation for a successful resolution. Resolute is defined as, "firmly resolved or determined, set in purpose or opinion, characterized by firmness and determination, as the temper, spirit, actions, etc." As Abraham Lincoln said, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution is more important than any other.” To be resolute takes strength of character and courage. The courage to change, to take risks, to think outside the box, to get out of your comfort zone, and most importantly to understand that a successful resolution will likely have a positive impact on those around you.

A physically and emotionally healthier you is a gift to those you parent, influence and love. Considering others into the equation of a successful resolution is the key to maintaining the motivation to complete what you set out to do. To stop smoking, eat healthy, drink less alcohol, stay in shape and be an ethical person should be as much for your children, grandchildren, and those you love, as for yourself. To take care of yourself is not being self-centered when the benefit to your commitment is for those you love and cherish. If you do not care about yourself why would you expect others to care about you any differently?

What impedes a successful resolution? Excuses! Not enough time, don't have the energy, my issues aren't that bad, others don't really care, I'm from a dysfunctional family, there is always next year, I'm really not that fat, it can't happen to me, and it's not my fault are examples of the sickness of excuses. It is always easier to resort to how it has always been, then to work towards what could be a better you. Doing the same thing, and expecting a different outcome is insanity.

Denial is the stimulus for generating excuses, and for the development of a lack of personal accountability. Denial in psychological terms is defined as, "an unconscious defense mechanism used to reduce anxiety by denying thoughts, feeling, or facts that are consciously intolerable." How personally dishonest is denial? It is a lie directed to oneself. In simple terms, denial is a cop out for not taking ownership for your life. As Benjamin Franklin stated, “How few there are who have the courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them.”

What is the difference between a resolution and a goal? Resolution is your intent to accomplish a goal. Without the proper execution of your intent, your goal cannot be achieved. Firm resolve is the backbone for your effort, and the accomplishment of that goal is your reward. Change is challenging, yet invigorating, when you realize what you set out to do can actually come to fruition. One day at a time, a commitment to do something each day directed toward that goal, and keeping your eye on the prize, are the three pillars to keep you strong and resolute.

Another key factor in achieving that goal is your attitude. Are you optimistic about your future, or in the doldrums because of your negativity and despair? If pessimism is the norm, failure will be the outcome. Surrounding yourself with optimistic and successful people can break the cycle of negativity. Find those who inspire and achieve, not depress and complain. Find those who have principled values, and not unprincipled behaviors. However, I have another resolution I would like you to consider. A social and communal resolution of commitment to unify our citizenry around mutual respect, moral decency, common sense, and integrity by the example we set each day. To realize there are those who believe in us is the reason we should believe in one another. Quitting is not an option, so make your resolutions become a reality. As the American naturalist and essayist John Burroughs simply said, “One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this; to rise above the little things.” Have a Happy and Blessed New Year!

Blessings - What is Right in Your Life?


In the spirit of this Christmas Season let us all reflect on the bright spots of our lives and cast aside, at least for the time being, any darkness that may exist. There are those who love you, and those you love. To focus on the negative, to hope for a better past, to be pessimistic about the future are choices, and ones that are emotionally and physically destructive. Life is too short to worry about everything wrong with it. You will find the more you think of others the happier you tend to be, and as a result the less your worries and issues tend to be.

When I reflect on the tragedies that have befallen our surrounding communities and their families I believe there is little reason to whine about what “things” you don’t’ have, or blame someone else for what your lot in life may not be. It is a time to reflect on the past, but not dwell on it. A time to cherish the fond memories, not use what should have been, might have been or could have been as excuses for what cannot be. A time to appreciate the blessings you currently have, and an understanding that your behavior reflects your character, and selflessness not self-centeredness is the cornerstone for happiness. As Charles Dickens said, “Reflect upon your present blessings – of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

A definition of blessing is, “a beneficial thing for which one is grateful; something that brings well-being.” When was the last time you reflected on what you are grateful for, and what brings you well being? The love of your spouse, the wonderment of your children, the ability to enjoy a sunny day, the bounty of a wonderful meal, the joy to laugh and cry with those you love, and the opportunity to make a positive difference in another each day are examples of how fortunate you may be. A child was born on to us to exemplify the light and cast away the darkness, to be the shining star of selflessness, and the provider of forgiveness. Regardless of your faith, these are characteristics of the goodness within all of us when we choose to act on those principles.

What example are you setting to those you love, and those who love you? Is it that child within you that shines goodness to those around you, or an attitude of being the victim of everything that negatively happened to you? I believe in the moral strength and eternal spirit of humanity, that goodness will prevail over evil, and content of character will endure beyond materialism. Who you are and what you stand for and believe in, are not controlled by the outside, but the internal choice to live and act on the core values you believe in. It is the constant regurgitation of the negative that poisons the very spirit of optimism. The fiscal cliff, the Middle East, the jobless rate, the loss of personal accountability, the decline of respect, the breakdown of family and moral relativity are all examples of what we are inundated with each day. However, I believe the world is not coming to an end regardless of the Mayan prediction. Shut out the negative and look for the positive in and around us. Jesus came into this world to expel the Prince of Darkness and be the light of the Holy Spirit, that Holy Spirit which is within all of us. As Henry Ward Beecher said, “The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” Throw out your darkness and invite your spirit of light to shine through.

I believe blessings are not always given, but also earned through the love, compassion, empathy, kindness, forgiveness and respect each of us shows to another. Our greatest blessings rarely have a price tag attached to them, but rather a human tag labeled family, friends, memories, and those who gave of themselves to help develop a better you. Over your Christmas, or holiday dinner this year, take a moment to observe, listen, and take a moment to count your blessings; and exemplify a spirit of love, forgiveness, and emotional generosity to those around you. Merry Christmas to All!

Saturday, August 15, 2020

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