You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. – Matthew 5:13-16 (NLT)
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. - Edith Wharton
I received an intriguing email from someone today who was trying to figure out what my Facebook avatar represented. The picture that they were trying to understand is this:
As I reflected upon their email and the subsequent reply I sent, I got to thinking about the season that is upon us.
No, not the Christmas season.
I’m referring to the season of wasting time with New Year’s Resolutions.
For all the articles, blogs and the like that appear this time every year telling you how and why to make a New Year’s Resolution and how to make it stick, most of them miss a very important fact when it comes to the classic “lose weight”, “read more”, “spend more time with the family”, blah blah blah resolutions.
The fact is this:
Your New Year’s Resolution will fail unless you can neutralize or remove the subconscious programming that created the challenge or obstacle (the result of the programming) that you are trying to overcome in the first place.
It will fail because you are addressing the effect and not the cause.
The reality is that most of our bad habits or the habits we wish to improve upon are hard-wired into our subconscious through years of Life experiences and choices and so a by-product of that wiring cannot be simply undone just because we declare it so.
It takes time and specific, targeted effort to reverse such wiring, two things that people are unwilling to invest in because of one or more of the following challenges:
- they are unaware of the difference between cause and effect and thus tackle the wrong end of the equation
- the programming is wired in more deeply than they realized
- the New Year’s Resolution is not that important (even though it feels important at the moment)
- the resolution is actually to please someone else and thus is not self-motivating enough
- we expect an easy, effortless fix for everything in our Life that needs improvement.
The reality is that that if we don’t get to the core issue in the subconscious wiring, the notion of making any resolution to address the result of the wiring is a waste of time.
However, if we are truly seeking ways to make the New Year a better one, there is one thing that is easier to accomplish than we think and is hugely impactful on ourselves and others.
I am referring to being the salt and the light in the lives of others.
Throughout our history, salt has always been used for two primary things:
- A food preservative
- A flavor enhancer
Canadians would argue at this time of year that its use as an ice melter is equally important but I digress.
When we choose to be “the salt” in someone’s Life, we do our best to show them how to preserve the positive essence of who they are as we lend a hand that shows that they are worth saving.
Having shown them that they are worth saving, we can then show them how Life can be rich and flavorful, a beautiful miracle that they are worthy of participating in and contributing to.
Once we have helped them rediscover their sense of value and self-worth, it is important that we help light their Path as they set out upon their new Life. Too often in an act of drive-by feel good, we pump people full of “you are worthy”, “you are great”, blah blah blah and then we leave them in the dark, feeling like we have done a good deed while the person we thought we helped wanders aimlessly around.
Other times when people are struggling, those who mean well step forward and tell them what their Life Path should be, where it should go and how the Path should be walked.
The truth is that in most cases (not all), the person needs someone else to illuminate their Path but doesn’t need to tell them how to travel it or where it leads. In the rare exception, some people do need help defining their Path but we should never assume this to be the case lest we insult them, damage their sense of pride and self-worth or we define a Path that works better for ourselves than for them.
The Bottom Line
When we choose to be the salt and the light, we make a choice to help others and in doing so, we also open ourselves up to being helped by others should we need it.
When we choose not to be the salt and the light, we make a conscious decision to withhold gifts that could benefit others, to deny someone else an opportunity to grow and to deny ourselves the opportunity of personal growth.
And unlike a fuzzy resolution that can’t be measured such as “I’m going to be happier this year” or the resolution that we have tried every year and failed such as “I’m going to lose 50 pounds by June”, being the salt and the light brings immediate, positive reinforcement to the person who makes such a resolution in addition to helping those who need assistance.
When it comes to rewiring your brain, such positive, immediate reinforcement has a much greater chance of sticking as a resolution than staring at the scales and wondering if you really lost 2 pounds this week or if people noticed that you were happier this week than last.
I think that being the salt and the light is not only much more gratifying and easier to accomplish, it is also much more important and impactful and for that reason, has a greater chance of being the one resolution that you actually manifest.
What do you think?
Create a great New Year for yourself and others, because merely having one is too passive an experience.
In service and servanthood,
Addendum – A Little Fun – January 1, 2015
A couple of readers sent me these photos after reading this blog post. I couldn’t resist sharing them.
Create a great 2015!