Testing Our Resolve
We face many tests every day. Some are tests of our resolve and will to be better persons. But these tests are golden opportunities for us to make important life course corrections and strengthen our resolve. They’re opportunities to forge character.
Traditionally, we annually reaffirm our resolve about important things at the beginning of each year. But we are so much better at making “New Year’s resolutions” than keeping them. Why do we bother? Is it just that we need to test our willpower? I think it’s a bit more than this. It has something to do with the need we all have for hope – hope that we can really change. And hope that with resolve, we can maintain positive changes.
The Price of Indulgence
Reliable data show that in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, most of us over-indulge on many fronts. We spend more time being couch potatoes. We eat too much food and partake of too many snacks and desserts.Many of us spend more money than we really need to. And, of course, some of us drink too much. And we generally pay a pretty hefty price for all this excess. The consequences of our indulgence add up fast and hit us hard. So we become more motivated than we might be at other times to take a long, hard look at some of our ways and resolve to change them.
Dealing with Weakness and Failure
Many people make a good start on their resolutions but become dejected a few weeks later. Generally, by mid-February, we’ve broken the vows we made on January 1st at least once. We become victims of the motivational paradox of resolution-making. Our motivation to change peaks in the midst of paying the consequences of irresponsible behavior. So it’s natural for that motivation to wane when we’ve actually begun to behave ourselves a little better.
Keeping resolutions isn’t difficult just because the pains of pre-New Year’s behavior have faded by February. It’s also because we don’t immediately realize the benefits of our efforts. It takes months of faithful work to achieve the goals we set and reap the anticipated rewards, When these fail to fully materialize and in relatively short order, we can lose both interest and motivation. Then, we slip back into old ways. Maintaining resolve in anything takes commitment. Such commitment is born of deep, abiding, unwavering and enduring love. That kind of love must be cultivated. And it has to woven into the very fabric of our character.
Character and Mental Health
From the late 70s through most of the 80s, professionals aligned with the “medical model” pushed the notion that most emotional, behavioral, and psychological problems stemmed from chemical imbalances in the brain. Advancing this perspective did a lot to remove the stigma often associated with some mental disorders. And many of these disorders had been unfairly viewed merely as manifestations of weak or poor character. But the perspective has its downside. We’ve made great strides in the treatment of certain brain diseases, as is so often the case, we went too far in discounting the importance of character and its role in both promoting and maintaining sound emotional and behavioral health.
In many ways, character is like a psychological immune system. Stressful things happen to all of us, but when you have a rightly developed will, you can more readily summon the internal resources to weather the storms of life. And when sound guiding principles lie at the heart of your character, many times the slings and arrows of life only further develop and strengthen your character and willpower.
Resolve to Make Character Matter Again
Many know what a nightmare dealing with or being in a relationship with a disturbed or disordered character can be. And perhaps there’s never been a time in our history where character has mattered as much. So, I make the same resolution every year: to do all I can to help make character “cool” again, and to make it matter. I reaffirm to not only talk about it but also “talk up” the concept of character development. Once it’s more “fashionable” to focus on character building, we as a society might encourage, recognize, value, and reward it more. I’ll be addressing this on my blog and YouTube, and in my speaking engagements, books and other writings, and various other professional enterprises. And I’ll have much more to say about my activities at the start of the new year.
Character Matters will not be a live broadcast this Sunday, November 6, 2016, so no calls can be taken. Nor will it be live next week. I’ll be back live Sunday Nov 20. And we’ll be talking about this very topic, among others.
I’m proud to announce the recent release of the new Brazilian edition of In Sheep’s Clothing. Look for an announcement soon about a pending Chinese edition. Happily, Character Disturbance, How Did We End Up Here, and The Judas Syndrome have also been growing in popularity. I’m both humbled and grateful for such longstanding and growing support for all my work.
Next week’s speaking engagements take me to Silver Spring, MD and Richmond, VA.