It’s a new year, and if you are like most people you are probably coming up with a whole list of new things you need to start doing this year: Get more serious about your health. Start saving more. Get out of debt. You really should do all of that. Do whatever it takes. But there’s only so much time in a day.
So here are some things we should give up this year to make way for what we are taking on.
Sharing Our Opinions
We’ve all got a right to our opinion. And in most of the Western world, we are blessed to be able to share it without any danger. “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial.” That’s a direct quote from the Apostle Paul. (1 Corinthians 6:12)
I’m convinced that many of us have become enslaved to sharing our own opinions at the expense of building community. We spend a whole lot of time doing it. We feel we haven’t truly expressed ourselves if we haven’t aired our opinion about everything happening in the world. But you know who the wisest man who ever lived says is best at airing their opinions? “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” (Proverbs 18:2) Let’s do less airing of our opinions this year and spend that time reading, asking questions and having conversations. Let’s seek understanding.
Complaining is a lack of gratitude. And honestly, if you are reading this article it means you’ve got a whole lot to be grateful for. Yesterday, you probably had a $4 cup of coffee. Maybe you’ve recently eaten a $12 hamburger. You probably have gas in your car. There’s a good chance you spend more on your cell phone bill than most people in the world make in a month.
Perhaps your health may be struggling. You may be “broke.” You may be depressed. But it’s in the moments that we’re tested that the faith we profess is refined. When we “give thanks in all circumstances,” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) we show that we really believe God has been good—no matter what our current situation may be.
Whatever circumstance you’re facing today, you’ve got a ton to be grateful for when you have Jesus. Which leads to the next thing.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Whoever said that would be rolling over in their grave if they saw Instagram. You can create whatever image of yourself you want with a picture. Add a cool filter and no one will know that you were just in tears about a fight you had with your mom. What they don’t know can’t hurt them. It’s like our society has made a complicit agreement to keep a veneer of perfection on social media. Problem is: We are all prone to envy.
Once again, Paul offers some sage commentary on comparison: “When they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” (2 Corinthians 10:12) Life, in all of its disappointments and mountaintops, will never be fully described or understood by what we choose to project or observe online—so stop comparing your life to others.
Indulging in Social Media
We know we should spend less time online and more time with real people. We know we shouldn’t engage in those silly online debates, whether as a participator or spectator. But social media is one of those guilty little pleasures many of us rationalize indulging in.
This year, get off social media and spend that time having some real, face-to-face conversations. Maybe even with total strangers. When you get your eyes off your phone during those “boring” moments—waiting for the train or for your oil to be changed—you’ll find there are some pretty interesting folks all around you. Some of the greatest doors that have opened in my life were because of conversations with total strangers who then became friends.
There’s probably a lot more that we would all benefit from doing less of this year. But start with these and I’d wager it’ll lead to a pretty amazing year.
Joel Malm is the founder of Summit Leaders Coaching and is the author of Fully You: Unlocking the Power of All You Really Are He has an M.S. in Counseling.