In the movie "Elf," there is a scene early in the movie where Buddy the elf is in class with the other elves and they are reciting the Code of the Elves:
• Treat every day like Christmas.
• There is room for everyone on the nice list.
• The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, can you imagine what life would be like if people actually treated every day as if it was a really special day, like a gift? If they looked for the best in everyone and helped people to see it in themselves? And if they spread cheer by being cheerful and singing loud for all to hear?
There is something that happens around this time of year that sets it apart from the other 11 months. While there may be some Scrooges out there, overarchingly people are more cheerful, generous and there is a warmth in the air. Think Beyoncé showing up at WalMart and paying the first $50 of every single person's bill in the store, #tipsforJesus and Secret Santas dropping large amounts of cash in Salvation Army kettles.
"Bah, humbug," you say. There is no question many challenges exist in the world today. Some can't wait to see the season end. People who don't even know one another hate each other because of differing opinions. Bad things happen to good people. In fact, some people seem to be a magnet for bad things happening around every corner.
Then there's the economy and the uncertainty of what tomorrow holds.
There is no question there is adversity in this world. It has been said that attitude is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we choose to respond. We can choose to let the world get the best of us or, in the dawning of a new year, we can choose to be intentional about treating every day as something special. If you wake up in the morning and look for opportunities to serve others, you might be surprised at how much better you feel even though nothing about your circumstances has changed.
While some say that they don't believe in making New Year's resolutions because they never keep them, the beginning of a new year does present a great opportunity to establish a new direction or build on an already-existing strong foundation. Don't be afraid to enter unchartered waters, which may be the course to newfound purpose in 2014.
Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and do something different.
Clearly, most of us don't have money like Beyoncé, but it doesn't cost anything to be kind, even if the person doesn't thank you in return.
Talk with friends about some of the changes you would like to make or things you would like to try. Networking with others can help you get connected, give you accountability and assist you in your efforts to accomplish your objectives.
As you treat every day as a gift and seek to bring out the best in others, journal about your experiences. You might be surprised by what you write.
Every day we get to choose how we will treat those around us. Wonder how different our world would be if we chose to spread cheer throughout the year?
Julie Baumgardner is the president and CEO of First Things First. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.