Twenty-five years ago, I made three resolutions that I have kept ever since: to color my hair; to wear lipstick; and to drink coffee. Grey hairs were starting to appear among the brown strands, and I didn't want to turn grey. It seemed that I was finally a grown up, and grown up women wear lipstick. And, I would soon be serving a church, and I knew very well that church people were coffee drinkers. I was a tea drinker, and no church served tea; they served coffee at every gathering. So, I started drinking coffee.
Well, sort of. First I drank hot cocoa with some coffee in it. I kept decreasing the amount of cocoa and increasing the coffee. Finally I moved to coffee with cream. Ever since, I've been a morning coffee person. Three resolutions that I have kept. Two I could do in an instant, one took small turns until I was fully there.
Since then I can't remember any resolutions that I've made and kept, and so this year, I didn't make any resolutions. However, the gradual change to coffee reflects how change can indeed happen. There is an old Chinese proverb: "If we don't change the direction we are going, we're likely to end up where we are headed."
Even the slightest change in direction will change where you end up. My brothers and I grew up sailing. My mother taught us to adjust the tiller (which moved the rudder of the boat, changing the boat's direction) ever so slightly to get to the point on land where we intended to go. Yet, if we pulled the tiller one or two inches inward, the boat would land several yards away from the dock on land. Maybe you've experienced something similar when driving a car. If your car for some reason lists to the left when you let go of the steering wheel – that is a slight change in direction – your car will soon end up in the lane with oncoming traffic. For both the sailboat and the car, the smallest shift in direction yields a large change in the outcome.
So it is with life. Starting with coffee, small amounts of coffee eventually grew to a whole mug full. I changed, with small increments of change, from being a tea drinker to a full fledged morning-is-no-good-without-it coffee drinker.
Now, I'm finding in other areas of my life that small changes are making bigger outcomes. Currently, my daughter tends to be angry at the world. There was a time when I met her anger with my own anger. I met her yelling with my own yelling. I decided that was not the direction I wanted to go. I am now staying calm when I talk with her, regardless of her tone of voice. When she is angry, I stay calm, even walk away. Is it changing her? Not yet. Is it changing me? Yes, I am calmer, communicating better, and not angry.
Resolutions may be helpful to some. I'm finding that making incremental changes in my thoughts and actions yield bigger changes in the long run. I want to head in the direction of peace and calm. Hopefully, I will get there.