"Do you guys celebrate New Year's?" a non-Jewish friend recently asks me.
I think of Rosh Hashanah, the prayers, the shofar and the apple dipped in golden honey. We weren't really 'celebrating' the New Year; we were being judged. We were thinking of what we could change. We were remembering the birthday of mankind and the King who creates every detail of the coming year on that day.
“The Jewish new year was in September,” I reply.
Then she shows me three new apps that she bought for her new year's resolutions. One app tracks her diet. Another one organizes and helps to improve her work schedule. And the last one is a 'happiness app' that asks her to fill in her happiness level at various times of the day so that she can figure out what gives her the most joy in life. My friend is thoughtful and giving, but I doubt those apps are going to help her because they don't address the key foundations of change.
So I thought of three new ideas for apps that encompass some of the essentials.
The Free Will App. Plug in the habits you want to change and rate the degree of difficulty you have changing each habit. Every time you change a habit to the extent it becomes natural for you, the app will automatically move your free will point to another level on the battle field. For this app to work at its optimum, you must log every minute of the day as a potential choice that you can make. To advance you can insert only "I will" or "I choose" statements. The app won’t work with sentences that begin with "I'll try" or "I should."
Special bonus: anytime you regret and change a bad choice that you made, the mistake is automatically transformed into an accomplishment that upgrades your free will point.
The Higher Purpose App. List your resolutions and insert a deeper meaning for each one. For example, if you want to lose weight, ask yourself why. I want to lose weight in order to be healthy and fulfill my life's purpose. This app trains you to become aware of your higher goals and helps you stay committed to them. Knowing your ultimate goals in life gives you the focus and determination to accomplish them.
This app takes all your resolutions and turns them into a personal mission statement that appears every hour on your screen to remind you what you are living for.
The Interconnectivity App. This app shows you the butterfly effect of your actions, for good and for bad, on your family, your community and the world. It reminds us how interconnected we really are.
This idea is based on an interview with some of the parents whose children were tragically murdered at Sandy Hook. The parents of Jessica Rekos recalled saying goodbye to their daughter that morning before school and frantically searching for her at the firehouse when they heard the news. They looked desperately for a sign of her black, glittery Uggs and her long, brown hair. No one would give them any information until Jessica's father begged one of the state troopers to tell him if all the parents remaining in that firehouse could assume their children weren't coming back. The trooper nodded with tears in his eyes, and the Rekos went home and sat on Jessica's bed and cried.
After airing this video, an emotional Megyn Kelly interviewed a doctor specializing in post-traumatic stress. He said that we shouldn't watch these types of interviews because people can experience vicarious post-traumatic stress. And then he said something that broke my heart: "Americans should keep in my mind that this isn't a national tragedy. It's a personal tragedy for the parents whose children were killed."
"I think many people would disagree with you, Doctor," Kelly replied.
I can't see how any parent – or any human being for that matter – doesn't feel the tragedy on a national level. We all lost some essential light of our shared humanity that day.
This app reveals the interconnection of our lives with others. When we integrate positive changes into our lives, we are happier and this happiness then spirals outwards. And when there is a tragedy in the world it boomerangs backwards to our communities, our families and ourselves. We are responsible for one another. We need to feel each other's pain and share in each other's happiness.
Perhaps this is what we can all think about as 2012 becomes 2013 – the challenges in the past year that we have helped each other through, the storms that we have weathered together, and the joy and blessing we have brought into each other's lives.