By Francis Ewherido
Stripped of the aura with which we embellish it, January 1 is like any other day: 24 hours, 1440 minutes and 86,400 seconds. But in our hearts, minds and lives, January 1 is not like any other day. It is a special day. January 1 means we made it into the New Year. You cannot take this for granted because people die on December 31, some just before midnight. I have already heard of four deaths on the last day of 2018. That is why on December 31 at midnight during Masses or Crossover Services in churches, you hear the congregation make a joyful noise/sound onto the Lord. It is all about seeing a new year.
Being alive means hope; hope for better things, healing, financial breakthrough, success in endeavours, completion of projects, and much more. You can never appreciate the importance of being alive and the hope it evokes until you lose a loved one and experience the helplessness and hopelessness (I am talking in the physical) that come with death.
So, if you crossed into the New Year, no matter what 2018 and the years before have been, you can begin anew. But first you must take stock. Some people are very bad at stocktaking. A young lady set up a business with N30m in the mid-90s. That was a huge sum then. When she took stock, she counted cartons, instead of the number of items in the cartons, to know the quantity in stock. Unknown to her, her staff were stealing the contents and arranging empty and half empty cartons. By 1997, the business went under. When some people take stock of their lives, they count and blame all the people who have refused to give them money, give them contracts, lend them a helping hand in times of need and family members/friends who are no longer there for them. Every failure and lack of achievement in their lives is blamed on others. They are permanently victims. They are never responsible for anything that is wrong in their lives.
My friend, if you want to start anew, the paradigm must shift. You are 80 per cent responsible for your failures. Stop the blame game and look into your life. With a new mindset, you do not even need to dig deep to know where you got it wrong. Until you can find where you previously went wrong, 2019 will not be different; you cannot start anew. And do not even bother about New Year resolutions.
Talking about New Year resolutions, these are supposed to emanate from your vision. Your visions are dots, which connect to unravel your mission in life. Your mission is a product of your purpose. You are not an accident of creation, even if you are a product of an unplanned pregnancy. The “unplanned” bit belongs to your parents; the Master Planner and Creator of the Universe knew even before you were conceived that you were coming to this earth and has given you an assignment (Purpose) to accomplish. Those who have undergone a journey of self-discovery know and fulfil their purpose. So if you are still in the blame game, you are off track. But then, it is a New Year and you can begin anew and find your purpose.
For those in their 40s and above, pay more attention to your health from 2019. There were some very painful deaths in 2018 that were avoidable. If you come from a family with a history of high blood pressure, you do not need any prompting to have a blood pressure monitor at home. Take your blood pressure every day. It takes less than five minutes to do that and there are 1440 minutes in a day. That is less than 0.34 per cent of your time every day. If your family has a history of diabetes, buy the blood sugar testing kits at home. It also takes less than five minutes to do it. Check every morning before meal (fasting sugar) or if you feel funny at any time during the day. Also, take your medication religiously.
You should exercise regularly, but not necessarily as you read in any book or sources. Consult your doctor, but let the state of your body be your ultimate guide. Do not create a bigger problem in an attempt to solve a small problem. Exercising after 40 years is mainly to make you healthier and prolong your life; you should not slump and die in the process of trying to prolong this same life.
Drink moderately in and out of festive seasons. Some people quote Paul’s advice to Timothy to justify their consumption of alcohol, but Paul said “a little alcohol” not five bottles of beer or a bottle of brandy at a sitting. Your internal organs are aging and simply do not have the capacity to process these extra volumes of the alcohol and sugar (yes, alcoholic drinks also contain sugar) that you are consuming.
Some people in their 40s and above are eating themselves to death. Just because food does not have the same bad boy image of alcohol, and does not intoxicate, does not mean you should abuse it. The effect of overindulgence on your body is just as devastating as that of alcohol. Eat the right quantity and the right kind of food that your aging engine (heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, etc.) can handle. Contact a dietician if in doubt. But over time, your body will tell you the kinds of food that are compatible with it and the non-compliant ones.
Whatsapp is a double-edged sword. It informs and educates, but it is also a time stealer, a dream stealer and an escape route from your problems. If you must, use it well. I have also found out that some of the most active people on Whatsapp belong to the older generation. Many are retirees on pensions and/or with ongoing business concerns, so money is not an issue. If you do not fall into this category and you do not earn a living from social media, but you are permanently hooked on social media, amend your ways in 2019. Just like television, spend less time on Whatsapp and other social media.
In this New Year, jettison all habits that are detrimental to your physical (financial, academic, career and marital) health. A former colleague used to add salt to any meal he is served even before tasting it. That was in the early 90s when we were still in our 20s. I used to advise him anytime we went on lunch break. Adding salt to meals when it has already been served is a bad habit. A few years ago, I got the news that he just slumped and was pronounced dead on arrival at the clinic. I am not saying this habit was the cause of the death, but it could have contributed.
Nigeria has enormous problems, but there also lies enormous opportunities. In any case do not personalize Nigeria’s problems. Have a reason to want to live, something to inspire hope, something to make you jump out of bed every morning. What is your passion? Where are the talents and gifts God gave to you? Do not behave like the wicked servant who dug his’ in the ground. It is time to unearth them, develop them and use them for your benefit and that of humanity. Happy New Year.