Have you ever heard about this book: “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People”? It’s a book written by STEPHEN R. COVEY.

To summarize: “Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, honesty and human dignity, principles that give us the security to adapt to change, and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.”

I would like to share some of his interesting thoughts that, I hope, will speak to you too!

“Each of us has many maps in our head, which can be divided into two main categories: maps of the way things are, or realities, and maps of the way things should be, or values. We interpret everything through these mental maps. We seldom question their accuracy; we’re usually even unaware that we have them. We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be.” (Page 24)

“I remember a mini paradigm shift I experienced one Sunday morning on a subway in New York. People were sitting quietly, some reading newspapers, some lost in thought, some resting with their eyes closed. It was a calm, peaceful scene.

 Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway car. The children were so loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed. The man sat down next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, even grabbing people’s papers. It was very disturbing. And yet, the man sitting next to me did nothing.

It was difficult not to feel irritated. (….) It was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated too. (…) I turned to him and said, Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?

The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly: Oh you’re right. (…) we just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know what to handle it either.

Can you imagine what I felt at that moment? My paradigm shifted. Suddenly, I saw things differently, and because I saw things differently, I thought differently, I felt differently, I behaved differently. My irritation vanished. I didn’t have to worry about controlling my attitude or my behavior; my heart was filled with the man’s pain. Feelings of sympathy and compassion flowed freely.  (…) Everything changed in an instant!

(…) We could spend weeks, months, even years laboring with the Personality Ethic trying to change our attitudes and behaviors and not even begin to approach the phenomenon of change that occurs spontaneously when we see things differently.”

Stephen R. Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Page 30-31

2014 is coming!!!

Is it a tradition for you to review the past year and make resolutions for the next one?

To tell the truth: for 4 years now, with my family, we decided to focus on the review of the past year. Resolutions are so hard to keep. Not necessarily because we do not want to, but because we simply don’t control so many of the events and situations that may or may not help their accomplishments.

A friend took the resolution to lose weight the following year and against all odds, she was expecting a baby, a source of extra Pounds!

A couple resolved to pay attention to their finances and start saving at the beginning of the new year, but then emergency: a health problem does not allow them to put a penny aside throughout the year.

A faithful person decided for the new year, to stop drinking alcohol and smoking. After two months, serious personal and family problems plunges him into a deep depression and he couldn’t hold his resolutions.

These examples sound depressing, aren’t they? Precisely, resolutions are certainly good but often they become a source of guilt, complex and self-pity when you can not keep them.

So, instead, I decided to focus on the review of the past year, positive or negative. This allows me to separate what my part is, what God expects from me, what I can change or improve or avoid. Then I set up principles which only I control, not the circumstances or people around me. Obviously, all this with the help of God!

Here are my 10 principles for 2014

  1. Stop saying or think negative things about my neighbor because I do not want anyone to do the same to me.
  2. Budget, select cheaper stores, wait for the sales, if possible, avoid credit cards … it isn’t the end of the world if I do not “shine” this year, as long as there’s life, there is the hope!
  3. Apologize and ask forgiveness from those I have hurt and forgive those who have hurt me. I may “get rid” of my enemies and not become their prisoner! So I avoid ulcers, depression and revenge!
  4. Accept me as I am (fat, thin, small, large …) and stop comparing myself to Celine Dion and ask around me (especially not my husband) if I gained weight or not. It prevents frustration, anxiety and phobia of the letters L, XL or XXL!
  5. Stop counting the number of “likes” on my pictures on Facebook or my blog or check who “likes” or doesn’t. If I like my picture enough to post it, that’s all that matters, right? Anxiety from social media is a waste of time.
  6. Resume and strengthen my relationships with friends, and members of my immediate, expanded and spiritual  family, as much as it depends on me. I think that God has left us all on earth to be a blessing to one another. Life is too short and I hate regrets!
  7. Unconditionally love and help my neighbor in need. And as someone said: “no need posting a Facebook status about it!”
  8. Turn off my phone at the table. Children grow very quickly and soon I may not be at the center of their conversation!
  9. Cry when I’m happy or when I’m sad. BE AUTHENTIC, not what the world expects. No fear of being fragile. Pretending takes too much energy. Allow God to change me according to His standard!
  10. Be courageous. If I have convictions, I will speak up, act for and I will accept the consequences. “A bit of authenticity will make a better world!”

Well, I still have two days to extend my list …