In 2024, start reading and you’ll find your spirits lifting!
Consider these 10 Resolutions from our Authors
For our 2024 New Year’s issue of ReadTheSpirit online magazine, we are sharing some New Year’s Resolutions from our nationwide community of authors. We did not have to ask these writers to send us “new” resolutions—because virtually all of our authors hope their books will make our world—and our lives—just a little better. That means—in the pages of their books—they’re offering readers wisdom about everything from finding happiness to peacemaking.
And, you’re right. That natural instinct to help readers makes these authors’ books very valuable. All you have to do is get a copy—and start reading—to find your spirits lifting. AND, as you read the following Resolutions—consider how timely these suggestions are today in 2024, even though some of them were expressed years ago.
If you agree, please share this column with friends this week via social media or email. That simple act of sharing this column might surprise you with the appreciation you’ll receive in response!
1.) Befriend a stranger.
The Story: In 2023, Laura Elizabeth proved that the heart of a popular cozy mystery is not the crime itself—it’s the circle of friends who come together to help their community get through that crisis. That’s why there’s not a dry eye among Laura’s readers when a little boy named Jacob says in her novel’s final pages: “I don’t usually have a lot of friends, but I really hoped it might be true here.”
The New Year’s Resolution: In 2024, reach out to someone who might otherwise remain a stranger in your workplace or community—and make a new friend.
To read more about Jacob—and the entire creative, lovable circle of friends on Mongin Island, get a copy of Laura’s All Is Now Lost: A cozy mystery rooted in the South Carolina Lowcountry
2.) Look for beauty in our differences.
The Story: For decades, interfaith peacemaker, educator and peace activist Brenda Rosenberg has been building bridges across some of the world’s widest and deepest chasms—including those that often separate Jews, Muslims and Christians.
The New Year’s Resolution: In 2024, pray that our senses will be attuned to look for beauty, not in the sameness of the people and cultures we already know—but in the differences we discover among our new friends.
3.) Listen more than we talk.
The story: Throughout his long life as a pastor, counselor, teacher and author, Benjamin Pratt has emphasized that we discover far more when we listen carefully to others, before sharing our own stories. In fact, in his popular Guide for Caregivers, Ben writes an entire chapter titled Talking Honestly; Listening Intently, which includes this sage advice: “The number one attribute and gift of a good listener is not the ear—it is the heart. A good listener has a loving, hospitable heart.”
The New Year’s Resolution: May we listen with an open heart more often than we rush to speak.
To read more about Benjamin Pratt’s inspiring ideas for our nation’s millions of caregivers, get a copy of his Guide for Caregivers, a book full of interactive wisdom for those of us who serve our families and communities each day.
4.) Watch out online this year!
The story: The “Dean of Jewish preachers” Rabbi Jack Riemer has preached scores of “new year” sermons at Rosh Hashanah throughout his long career leading congregations and teaching other Jewish leaders the craft of preaching and creative writing. In one of his most popular New Year’s sermons, Jack reminds people that we all too often abandon our best hospitable instincts when we log into our computers. He offers a prayer that says in part: “May we live as human beings who are created in the image of God, and not as creatures that are made in the image of the machine.” Wow! That’s a pretty insightful prayer, isn’t it?
The Resolution: As Jack himself puts it—in 2024, “may we guard our tongues—and guard our mice!”
To read more about Jack’s best holiday sermons—including the entire prayer for guarding our lives online—get a copy of his Finding God in Unexpected Places: Wisdom for Everyone from the Jewish Tradition.
5.) Try Writing Poetry
The story: Lucille Sider, the clinical psychologist and clergywoman who wrote a memoir about coping with deep-seated trauma, advises readers to turn to poetry to pour out some of our deepest pain, yearning and hope. “After writing a poem, a deep peace settles over me,” she writes.
The Resolution: Write a poem this year. (You may discover you like the feeling, whether anyone reads your poetry or not, and wind up writing many.)
To read more about Lucille’s remarkable resilience in living with trauma and resulting mental illness, get a copy of her memoir Light Shines in the Darkness.
6.) Pay attention to our ‘better angels’
The story: Many of our readers will recognize that phrase as one of Abraham Lincoln’s most enduring words of advice from his first inaugural address. That’s also one of the most powerful phrases stressed in Lincoln-scholar Duncan Newcomer’s book 30 Days with Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln believed that pausing to remember thankfully all that we have received in our lives is one of the surest ways to hear those “better angels” calling.
The Resolution: In 2024, pause before responding to a challenging situation—especially one that involves conflict—and listen carefully to those “better angels” who continue to speak to us, Lincoln said, through “the mystic chords of memory.”
To read more about the relevance of Lincoln’s wisdom for us today, get a copy of Duncan Newcomer’s 30 Days with Abraham Lincoln—and you may want to find inspiration this year with our entire array of “30 Days” books.
7.) Confront racism
The story: There’s no way to avoid racism in America, writes scholar and educator Anni K. Reinking in her memoir. That’s true, even though political leaders in some regions are trying to erase the subject from our public schools and other institutions. In her wise, personal account of navigating racial attitudes, Annie challenges readers to realize that there is no way to avoid these complex issues. So, she wisely asks: Why not make a positive commitment this year to learn more about what each of us can do to overcome racism?
The Resolution: Welcome opportunities to learn about race and racism in America.
To read more about Reinking’s story—and her helpful research about racial attitudes—get a copy of Not Just Black and White.
8.) Share hope with others
The story: Sharing love and hope “is not an option. It’s not a hobby. It’s our purpose here as we walk the earth.” That’s how Howard Brown closes his inspiring memoir, Shining Brightly, which shares true stories about everything from overcoming stage IV cancer—not once, but twice—and finding success as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur as well. “While it may sound like a burden, that call to spread love and happiness turns out to be the key to our own happiness as well,” Howard writes.
The Resolution: Each day, find a way to share hope in a loving way with someone you encounter.
To read more about Howard’s wisdom for resilience in the face of cancer, overcoming the huge challenges of entrepreneurship and building bridges of peace in our world today, visit Howard’s Shining Brightly website. There you’ll find a link to buy his book and—you’ll find links to his weekly podcast that has attracted an audience of thousands around the world.
9.) Connect with a congregation
The Story: As surprising as this sounds to many people, a quarter of a century of research around the world shows that connecting with a congregation on a regular basis is a powerful predictor of health and wellbeing. That’s due to four influences explained in the 10th chapter of our book Now What? A Guide to the Gifts and Challenges of Aging. Chapter 10 is simply titled “Connecting with a Congregation” and has turned out to be the most-shared chapter of that book, which was written through the collaborative efforts of more than a dozen experts from around the world.
The Resolution: Connect with a congregation of your choice.
To read more about these remarkable “gifts and challenges,” get a copy of Now What? A Guide to the Gifts and Challenges of Aging. Of course, that includes the very popular Chapter 10 and the details on those four influences that make most congregations centers of health and wellbeing.
10.) Remember—We’re ‘Always Arriving’
The story: This final, wise Resolution comes from the late Dr. Cheryl El-Amin, Ph.D., LMSW, who died in 2019. For many years, she and her husband Imam Abdullah El-Amin were two of the most important Muslim leaders based in Detroit. Beyond their beloved Muslim Center congregation in Detroit, the El-Amins both were involved in many interfaith organizations. This year, we also mourned the loss of Imam El-Amin, who followed his wife in death in March 2023. But, to remind us of their tireless commitment to peace, we still have some of Cheryl El-Amin’s wisdom in a collection of inspiring stories published under the title Friendship & Faith.
The Resolution: Never stop doing good work, even when we think we’ve done enough! (Cheryl El-Amin taught from the Quran that God wants us to: “Keep working hard, because … you never really arrive in life. You’re always arriving—G’d willing.”)
To read more about WISDOM’s remarkable collection of true stories about unexpected friendships, get a copy of the group’s book Friendship & Faith, subtitled: The WISDOM of women creating alliances for peace.