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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Most Satisfying New Year’s Resolution

A few months ago, I connected my blog to the Blog Lovin’ App. Of course, they asked for my email address, so being dumb, I gave it to them. You know how the drill goes…now my inbox gets filled with emails from Blog Lovin’. I guess some people may like getting emails, newsletters, and sales ads from every website they’ve ever visited, but personally, I do not. All those emails do nothing but clutter my inbox. Most of the time I simply hit the delete button, but when I saw the Blog Lovin’ Digest this morning, I decided to quickly browse the article titles to see what other people were writing about this week. Here’s a list of the nine trending articles from the weekly Digest:

  • Your To-Do List to Make 2018 Your Healthiest Year Ever
  • 5 Great New Years Resolutions to Make in 2018
  • Be More Proactive about Your Health in 7 Easy Steps
  • Choosing a Word to Define and Guide Your Year
  • Do This for 30 Minutes a Day for Better Sleep
  • How to Plan the Perfect Week
  • 7 Fitness Resolutions that are Better than Losing Weight
  • This Is How the World’s Most Successful People Get It All Done
  • The 8 Best Podcasts to Motivate Your Work Week

Do any of these articles sound like they’d be worth your time to read? Apparently other people thought so because they are the ones featured in the email blast that went out to thousands of people around the world.

What Can We Learn from the Titles of These Articles?

When I step back from the trees and look at the forest, I notice a pattern to these articles. If these are the articles lots of people are reading, then lots of people have some level of desire to make changes to their lives, whether it be eating healthier, working out more, or being more successful at work.

Why would people want to make changes to their lives? If something isn’t broken, then there’s no reason to fix it. This is generally how people live. But since so many people are reading these articles, which are focused on fixing something, I have to conclude that they must think something in their life is broken. To say it another way, they must feel dissatisfied, unfulfilled, or unhappy with something. Maybe they’re dissatisfied with their weight. Maybe they’re dissatisfied with their jobs. Maybe they’re dissatisfied with their marriages. Whatever it may be, it seems like lots of people who subscribe to Blog Lovin’ are at least investigating what types of changes they might be able to make in their lives that would allow them to experience a greater level of satisfaction, fulfillment, and happiness.

If we were able to apply all the things in these articles, then we’d all be a bunch of healthy, good looking, corporately successful people with flawless marriages and perfect children. But none of us are there, even after following the 3 easy steps for this, 5 easy steps for that, and 7 easy steps for the other year after year.

I think some of you reading this article have spent years reading every article you can find on a specific self-help topic and have tried to implement everything the writers suggest, yet you feel like failures because you can’t seem to generate the results they’ve promised.

For clarification, I don’t think there’s any ill-intent on the part of the writers nor do I believe the writers are clueless about these topics. Most of them truly believe that the seven steps they recommend are the keys that gave them their success, so they’re doing nothing more than trying to help others achieve the same results.

But when we try to implement the same seven steps, we either struggle to stay motivated or after implementing them for a while, we can’t seem to generate the same results. What’s wrong with us? Why do other people seem to have the power to change their lives while ours still seems to be chaotic messes?

Why did Suzie, who’s before and after picture you saw on a dieting commercial, lose 50 pounds on a certain diet, but you couldn’t even lose 5 pounds on the same diet? Why did Bob, who’s before and after picture you saw on a body-building commercial, gain a six-pack and monster pecs, but you only saw slight personal muscle growth when you followed the same steps? Why does the CEO of your company have a hot wife, straight-A kids, and live in a mansion, but you and your wife seem to fight all the time, your kids struggle to make the honor roll, and you live in an antiquated house that requires a lot of work? Why don’t you experience the same success as everyone else?

Creating change in your life is much more complex than you may realize; there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye. Most of it is much more outside of your control than you realize. Not to mention that when you watch commercials or read the stuff other people are writing about, you’re being shown the best success stories. How many other people tried the same stuff and turned out just like you? Lots more than you probably realize.

Creating the changes we want to see in our lives is hard work. It takes a lot of money, time, and energy. Actually, it takes more of these three resources than any of us have available. In the end, we can’t make all the changes we want to make, which naturally means we need to prioritize these changes. Which one is most important? And how are you measuring your success? Why not throw the bulk of your resources towards that one thing until you reach your desired level of success?

Can Anything Satisfy Us?

This is certainly a way to help yourself achieve your goals. You may read something similar in other articles about learning how to successfully achieve your New Year’s Resolution. But I don’t want to merely provide you with something you can get somewhere else. I want to challenge you to dive deeper into this topic to find something you may not find somewhere else.

Why do so many people want their lives to change? I claimed earlier in this article that I believe it’s because they are dissatisfied, unfulfilled, or unhappy in some area of their lives. And they think that if they make these changes, they will be more satisfied, fulfilled, and happier. Will they really find it?

Have you ever achieved your New Year’s Resolution? Did it make you happier? Personally, I have had the experience of achieving a few New Year’s Resolutions. When I achieved them, I felt happier for a little while, but then that happiness wore off. Has that happened to you? It doesn’t necessarily have to be with a New Year’s Resolution; maybe it was with another goal you achieved. Maybe you had a goal of graduating from college, saving a certain amount of money, or getting married. Maybe making a change brought you some additional happiness for a little while, but that happiness eventually wore off.

Based on my life experiences, it seems natural that anything which brings us some level of satisfaction, fulfillment, or happiness eventually wears off. For example, when we eat a meal, we are satisfied for a little while, but a few hours later, we’re hungry again.

Most people just accept that this is the way life works and jump from one fleeting pleasure to another. But I’ve never been one to accept the status quo. I have a dream where I and everyone else can be filled up once and for all; it’s a state where we never have to go back again for more because we will be completely satisfied, fulfilled, and happy.

I certainly haven’t experienced everything there is to experience in life. So it’s a very good thing that multitudes of other people who have had more experiences than me have taken the time to write down some of their thoughts on their experiences. Wouldn’t you know it…none of us, not me and not anyone else who I read, have been able to find anything on this earth that is able to fulfill my dream. Not a single one. I’ll give you an example of one of these writers.

King Solomon, a king over the nation of ancient Israel, who is revered as one of the wealthiest and happiest kings of all time, wasn’t even able to find the silver bullet. He had 700 wives, 300 concubines, more kids than I can count, so much gold that silver was basically worthless, and exceptional wisdom, yet he recognized that he was still not completely satisfied. See an excerpt of what he once wrote:

So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.[1]

Solomon spent his life chasing after all sorts of stuff in an attempt to find the ever-elusive complete satisfaction, fulfillment, and happiness he desired. After having achieved everything he wanted, he stepped back to do some reflecting. And in the end, he concluded that it was all worthless. Even though he had everything he wanted, he still wasn’t completely satisfied, fulfilled, or happy. Of course he was probably satisfied to some degree, fulfilled to some degree, and happy to some degree, but not like he had hoped. Not like the dream he had been holding onto all his life.

Do you have this same dream? If you don’t, did you have it at one point in time? Did you dream of reaching a state in which you would be completely satisfied, fulfilled, and happy? Based on my research, it seems all of us have had this dream at one point in time, but more many people, their experiences told them that it was impossible to achieve this goal. So many people abandoned their dream and began to settle for fleeting pleasure after fleeting pleasure, hoping to find some level of happiness in the midst of them.

Why haven’t I given up my dream? Is it because I’m a glutton for punishment? No. It’s because I still believe it’s achievable; I believe I will one day reach a state, whether it’s in this life or the next, where I will be completely satisfied, fulfilled, and happy. Am I going to find it in eating healthier, exercising more, or succeeding in my career? No. Am I going to find it in having a better marriage, living in a bigger house, or having more accolades than anyone in history? No. Am I going to find it in stockpiling more money, driving a nice car, or having better sex? No. I’m not going to find it in any of the fleeting pleasures of life. Trust me. Generations of people who have come before us have already told us that it can’t be found in those places. Why do I need to experience the same disappointments all over again?

So where can it be found? What is it that gives me hope for reaching a state where I am completely satisfied, fulfilled, and happy? Check out these claims from two different people:
In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more.[2]

Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.[3]

The first quote is a claim made by a guy named David who lived about 3,000 years ago. The “your” he was speaking of was God. He claimed that complete satisfaction, fulfillment, and happiness could be found in God’s presence. It’s ironic that his son was the same Solomon I quoted earlier who tried to find pleasures in all sorts of other places. Maybe he wasn’t so wise after all.

The second quote was made by Jesus, a man who is believed to be God (and there is substantial evidence to support his claim). Therefore, God claimed to be able to satisfy us with “living water” so that we would never be dissatisfied, unfulfilled, and unhappy again. If God exists and if he is telling the truth (both of which seem very probable based on the research that has gone into these two subjects), then I have every reason to have hope that my dream will come to fruition. And if you still have that dream, you can have that hope too.

So there’s my addition to the list of trending articles on the Blog Lovin’ digest related to making changes in your life. If you’re tired of trying to find satisfaction by following the 3 steps to eating healthier, 5 steps to making your body sexier, and 7 steps to having a more successful career, consider taking the 1 most difficult step you’ll ever take to pursue God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. I can’t guarantee much of anything in life, but if everything God says about himself is true, then I can guarantee you this: If you pursue God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, you will not be disappointed with the results.[4]

I hope you’re having a great New Year and I look forward to sharing with you again next week! Feel free to reply to this article in the social media feed. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

[1] Ecclesiastes 2:9-11.
[2] Psalms 16:11.
[3] John 4:13-14.
[4] “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13.

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