2nd Sunday after Christmas

Happy New Year 2011

The New Year is about new beginnings, starting again. This month all the self-help books and gym memberships are sold and diet plans start in earnest.

This might make you laugh, but I was flicking channels on the TV recently and I came across a repeat programme of Oprah Winfrey. Her guest was the famous chef, Jamie Oliver. The programme, as you can guess, was devoted to healthy eating and diet, appropriate as we begin a new year and perhaps have taken on resolutions hoping that we can stick to them.

Jamie Oliver made a series of programmes in 2010 in the town in West Virginia that had the highest rate of obesity in the USA. He decided that to change that terrible statistic that he would have to change people’s attitudes and eating habits. At first he met stern resistance. But one image that helped bring about change was the discovery that there was a huge increase there (and elsewhere) in the sale of oversize coffins. These coffins are the size of your bedroom wardrobe or bigger. Many funerals cannot have a proper hearse and funerals require a forklift of trailer to help transport the deceased obese person.

Our lives change when our habits change, simple as that. What we lack is the proper motivation. How is it that I can get up at 5 am to catch an early morning flight when I am going on my holidays, and yet most other mornings I can’t get up early? What is so different: motivation, perceived rewards, and statements like ‘I can sleep later’.

A once-off change in my schedule or habits is one thing, but what about long term consistency? We don’t see the benefit or rewards of long-term change or the results of better choices straight away – we get impatient with apparent lack of progress and we back-slide to old ingrained bad habits.

Jamie Oliver said something quite significant when Ms Winfrey asked him why people don’t change, or why it or what is it that forces change. Hi answer went something like this:
We will change when we see that the pain of not changing becomes greater than the pain of changing.

We have to look at change for the better this way – endure short term pain and long term gain OR endure short-term gain and long term pain.

Short term pain and long term gain means for example I will exercise today – I will, for example, stop smoking, I will eat less TODAY, It will require sacrifice now, but I will gain in the long run

OR on the other hand

Short-term gain and long term pain means that I will have that second helping of dessert, that whole tin of chocolates I got over Christmas all to myself, and suffer the long term weight gain and problems with it.

We can be blind to our own complacency.

We fail to keep a resolution because we lack the following : a proper motivation, a sensible concrete goal, a proper incentive to keep us from back-sliding, an ability to live with short-term discomfort, and a system of accountability to ourselves or others.
What if I don’t change? What will happen?

The acronym SPICE may help us to see where we may need change:
Spiritually, Physically, Intellectually, Socially, Emotionally

Ultimately change is possible – and the best motivation of all is because God wants it. Another word for change after all is repentance.

Happy New Year and God's blessing on your resolutions!

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