Want to lose weight? Me too. And so did 84 female housekeepers in seven different hotels who typically clean fifteen rooms a day. They were measured for physiological health variables affected by exercise and then two Harvard University psychologists informed half the women (untruthfully) that their daily work alone constituted enough exercise to make them lose weight and keep healthy.
In 2007, Psychological Science reported that those in the informed group lost weight, lowered their blood pressure, and had significantly healthier body-fat percentage, body mass index, and waist-to-hip ratio while the others had no changes.
What you believe can make your body do amazing things.
Making resolutions is easier than keeping them but how do we increase the likelihood of keeping them all year and really achieving meaningful results? There is much useful advice to be found, but here is one spiritual key to keeping your New Year resolutions.
Generally, when are you most likely to keep your word? Often, the answer depends on how much you value the person to whom you make the promise.
For example, if you assure your college roommate that you’ll stop leaving your clothing lying around the dorm you might occasionally forget to keep your word. Your roommate is, after all, just your roommate. However, if you assure your boss, who has put your job on the line, that you’ll make ten sales calls each day, you might just keep your word.
A resolution is making a promise to yourself. If you promise yourself, say, to stop smoking, keeping your resolution will partially depend upon how important and worthy you think you are.
It is helpful to think of abandoning a resolution as a sin. You should carefully think before pledging your word to others and so you should seriously think before pledging to yourself. You will make fewer resolutions, but be more likely to keep them.
Examine these five verses. The word inside the brackets shows the Hebrew.…
- when [ki] a person will sin…
- If [im] the anointed kohen [priest] will sin…
- If [im] the entire congregation of Israel will err…
- When [asher] a ruler sins…
- If [im] one individual from among the people of the land will sin…
Significantly, in one chapter describing the same action, three different Hebrew words are used for ‘when’ or ‘if’. Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that the three Hebrew words used above imply different levels of probability.
- asher means it will almost definitely happen.
- ki means it will probably happen.
- im means it might but probably not.
Verse 1 acknowledges that an ordinary person by himself will probably sin.
Verse 2 declares that a special priest probably won’t.
Verse 3 that everyone in a group will probably not all commit the same sin at the same time.
Verse 4 reminds us that a ruler has many temptations and will surely sin.
Verse 5 gives us an amazing insight. It seems to be speaking about an individual, just like the first verse. But a different word is used, implying that this time the individual has a smaller chance of sinning. By seeing himself as a worthy part of a group, including remarkable people like anointed priests and rulers, he is more likely to weigh his actions carefully.
God wants us to feel morally worthy and even holy. Seeing ourselves as part of an important group, rather than only focusing on ourselves as individuals can help. We can also elevate our sense of self-worth by recognizing our role as a child of God. Extending our connection to others we respect reinforces in us that we are morally worthy and significant. Just as we tend to be careful when committing to other people, we should be careful with commitments made to ourselves.
What we believe can make our bodies do amazing things. Being aware that what we say to ourselves and others substantially shapes our lives is key to leading the life we wish. Perils of Profanity: You Are What You Speak shares ancient Jewish wisdom that can help us escape the mediocrity and negativity around us and truly make 2017 the year we wish it to be.
adapted from Thought Tool Jan. 4, 2012