As 2013 ends and 2014 begins, I hope that two questions will help you to look ahead. First, in what specific, measurable way do you hope to become a better person in 2014? Second, in what specific, measurable way do you hope to make the world a better place in 2014?
An implicit premise of living abundantly is that life becomes richer, more abundant each year. Obviously, this more abundant life is irreducible to health or physical well-being, which inevitably deteriorates as one ages or, worse yet, ends abruptly when one does not grow old. Even with diminishing abilities attributable to nothing more than the effects of aging, abundant life is possible. Similarly, the abundant life is irreducible to material well-being, which also tends to fluctuate over time, sometimes moving in an adverse direction.
The abundant life must therefore point toward a life that is richer because of deeper, perhaps more meaningful, relationships, i.e., fuller of love. This conception of life abundant echoes Jesus' ideals. Consequently, living more abundantly requires that the world, in some way, become a better place; paraphrasing John Donne, no person is an island. Hence, my second question: what will you do to make the world a better place in 2014?
The abundant life also points toward a life marked by a fuller awareness of self, others, and the world, the principles of living abundantly, and a more constant, more complete awareness of beauty. This concept of life abundant echoes Aristotle's philosophy. The abundant life, even in an improved world, is impossible unless the individual is also growing. Thus, my first question: what will you to become a better person in 2014?
To these I would add two more dimensions, both implicit in both Jesus' and Aristotle's teachings. An increasing sense of autonomy and creativity characterize life abundant. Without some measure of autonomy, individuals rightly disclaim all responsibility for everything; without creativity, nothing new is possible.
One can experience these six aspects of abundant living regardless of one's physical or material well-being. Indeed, some philosophers speculate that these characteristics can especially increase when one is poor; other philosophers argue the opposite. Recent psychological research suggests that the characteristics associated with life abundant flourish best when one suffers from neither a deficit nor an excess of material wealth.
Setting specific, measurable goals helps to set realistic, achievable objectives; ensuring that the goals are measurable allows personal accountability. Record your goals. Then review your progress toward those goals once a month, revising as appropriate.
Life is a gift. Setting goals that encourage you to live more abundantly can help you to make the most of the gift that is your life.
In what specific, measurable way do you hope to become a better person in 2014? In what specific, measurable way do you hope to make the world a better place in 2014?
Have a wonderful and blessed 2014!