Good Goals for the New Year
Laws of the Lighthouse
by Max Lucado
The first of the year is known for three things: black-eyed peas, bowl games, and lists. Some don’t eat black-eyed peas. Others hate football. But everybody likes lists.
The Bible certainly has its share of lists. Moses brought one down from the mountain.
There are lists of the gifts of the Spirit. Lists of good fruit and bad. Lists of salutations and greetings. Even the disciples’ boat got into the action as it listed in the stormy Sea of Galilee. (If you smiled at that, then I’ve got a list of puns you’d enjoy.)
But the greatest day of lists is still New Year’s Day. And the number one list is the list I call the Laws of the Lighthouse.
The Laws of the Lighthouse contain more than good ideas, personal preferences, and honest opinions. They are God-given, time-tested truths that define the way you should navigate your life. Observe them and enjoy secure passage. Ignore them and crash against the ragged rocks of reality.
Smart move. The wise captain shifts the direction of his craft according to the signal of the lighthouse. A wise person does the same.
Herewith, then, are the lights I look for and the signals I heed:
- Love God more than you fear hell.
– Once a week, let a child take you on a walk.
– Make major decisions in a cemetery.
– When no one is watching, live as if someone is.
– Succeed at home first.
– Don’t spend tomorrow’s money today.
– Pray twice as much as you fret.
– Listen twice as much as you speak.
– Only harbor a grudge when God does.
– Never outgrow your love of sunsets.
– Treat people like angels; you will meet some and help make some.
– ‘Tis wiser to err on the side of generosity than on the side of scrutiny.
– God has forgiven you; you’d be wise to do the same.
– When you can’t trace God’s hand, trust his heart.
– Toot your own horn and the notes will be flat.
– Don’t feel guilty for God’s goodness.
– The book of life is lived in chapters, so know your page number.
– Never let the important be the victim of the trivial.
– Live your liturgy.
To sum it all up:
Approach life like a voyage on a schooner. Enjoy the view. Explore the vessel. Make friends with the captain. Fish a little. And then get off when you get home.
From In the Eye of the Storm
© (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006) Max Lucado
5 Rituals to Reconnect in Your Relationships
In his book The Intentional Family, Bill Dougherty discusses “rituals of connection” as an important tool for successful relationships. A ritual of connection is a way of regularly turning towards your partner that can be counted on.
Erica and Rob, both in their late forties, have been happily married for ten years and are raising three children. When I asked Rob about the rituals in their marriage, he reflects:
We hug every day when I get home because physical touch is one of my Love Languages. Erica is not as affectionate as I am, but she’s up for it because she know’s how important it is to me.
Couples with relationships rich in rituals and traditions are able to create shared meaning, the top level of the Sound Relationship House.
Daily rituals shape our lives in positive ways
In The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg explains that habits are crucial to success in all realms of our life. Overall, they make us more productive and healthier. In a relationship, Dr. Gottman calls these habits rituals of connection.
Here are five rituals to help your relationship thrive.
1. Eat meals together without screens
It may not be possible to do this for every meal, but whenever possible, turn off the TV and put away your cell phone. Your emails and Facebook feed can wait.
2. Have a stress-reducing conversation
Spend 30 minutes each day having a “how was your day, dear?” talk. Kyle Benson explains that the purpose of this conversation is to discuss external stress. It’s not a time to bring up issues about your relationship. Couples who actively listen, take turns sharing how they feel, and show compassion to each other will reap the rewards of more emotional connection in their marriage.
3. Take a vacation
Take an annual vacation without the kids to somewhere you both agree upon. Drs. John and Julie Gottman have an annual honeymoon in the San Juan Islands off the coast of British Columbia. If your budget doesn’t allow you to take a vacation, you might try camping or looking for moderately priced accommodations nearby for a long weekend.
4. Exercise together
Go biking together every Saturday morning or take a daily post-dinner walk with your partner. Add a little novelty and excitement by trying kayaking in the summer or cross country skiing in the winter months. Studies show that sharing an exciting experience can bring couples closer together.
5. Share a six-second kiss
A daily six-second kiss will increase your emotional and physical intimacy. According to author Dr. Kory Floyd, physical contact releases oxytocin (the bonding hormone), can improve our mood (for days), and can help you stay calm. Holding hands, hugging, touching, and making out can reduce your stress hormones (cortisol) and increase your sense of relationship satisfaction. If kissing for six seconds feels like too much, share a hug like Erica and Rob.
Never underestimate the power of intentional time with your partner. Doing fun things together like singing in the shower or riding a bike can bring joy and laughter. Telling jokes, watching funny movies, or anything else that brings you both pleasure can ignite passion and keep you connected.
Dr. John Gottman suggests that couples commit to a magic six hours a week together, which includes rituals for saying goodbye in the morning and reuniting at the end of the day. Sticking to these rituals will help you to reconnect when life gets in the way.
The Marriage Minute is a new email newsletter from The Gottman Institute that will improve your marriage in 60 seconds or less. Over 40 years of research with thousands of couples has proven a simple fact: small things often can create big changes over time.
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We are creatures of habit – whether we like it or not. As the long, lazy, unstructured days of summer come to a close, many of us feel an unbidden craving for the cozy, comfortable, structured routines of fall. Indeed, this craving presents because our brains are actually wired for the safety of routine.