Stand up and
Five Resolutions to Make Life Better in 2019
By Kyle Whitlock
Happy New Year, It’s 2019 (the year of the pig)! January is a time to reset, especially for guys like me, who have no control. I’ve heard an incredible amount of resolutions in the past few days and although I know they all come from a good place, I have a hard time believing they will come to fruition. Let me start off by saying, you don’t need January 1 to make a change. Make every day count. Make every hour count. Make every conversation count.
Here are five of the most impactful and achievable resolutions I challenge you to try.
Resolution 1: Reach out to a stranger!
Every single day of your life, you come into contact with strangers at convenience stores (shoutout to Wawa), grocery stores, the mall, work, school and everywhere in between. Why not use these opportunities to make someone smile? Hold a door or let someone with only a couple groceries pass you in line. Think about the positive vibrations that flood the room. Use this same sense of outreach to meet new people and introduce them to Alpha Epsilon Pi. The simplest way to double the size of your chapter is to get each Brother to make just one friend. That sounds simple but it has to start with reaching out to someone you don’t know, introducing yourself and starting a conversation. On many of our campuses, AEPi Brothers represent the bulk of Jewish life (or, certainly, Jewish social life) and newcomers to campus need you — our Brother — to reach out and introduce yourself. When you do that, you’re making a difference in that person’s life, your own life, your chapter’s success and your campus’ Jewish community … just by making one simple call.
Resolution 2: STOP COMPLAINING
Okay, eliminating complaining might seem impossible, but you can certainly do less of it. There is a fantastic book you can find for cheap called A Complaint Free World by Will Bowen. This book changed my life thanks to a friend who gave it to me hoping I’d get the hint. Naturally, I didn’t think I complained that much. We often realize, once we are made aware that we complain, that our negativity also has a ripple effect, much like complimenting a stranger. Only here it is all negative. When toxic words fill the air, they become contagious. A gripe, a complaint, gossiping, they are all types of behavior we should eliminate from our lives. Being cognizant of our actions make us happier, our friends and Brothers happier and will prove critical if you want to become successful in life. Think about your own chapter, couldn’t your meetings stand to be more positive with less kvetching? Make a difference. Be positive and get your Brothers to start thinking that way, also.
Resolution 3: Do no harm
This one is a bit abstract. As a traveling consultant for AEPi, I learned many things, but one of the biggest pieces of advice that I learned was to DO NOT HARM. What does that mean? It’s similar to the concept “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Many toxic friendships and relationships are made up of seriously judgemental people. Let me live my life! If it isn’t directly altering your life, you should consider whether or not it’s your place at all to speak up. For example, we all know Brothers who aren’t carrying their weight in the chapter or doing the things that we elected them to do. We have three choices: get involved and complain (see #2), let it be or, most positively, we can intervene and help our Brothers (and, thus, our chapter) to succeed. The great Chasidic master and Kabbalist Rabbi Nachman of Breslov said, “If you believe that you can ruin, then believe that you can fix.” In other words, instead of focusing on the negative, concentrate on the positive, using your mental resources to repair things rather than damaging them.
Resolution 4: Don’t just survive, THRIVE.
We tend to drift through much of our time in this world. It’s crazy how small changes to your life leave you feeling like you are really on top of your game. Train your body to wake up an hour earlier to clean your room, read a chapter in a good book or to do some yoga. Even a brisk walk will have you feeling energized. Those small tweaks add up, I promise. This resolution can be different for everyone. Without getting too deep into the changes I’ve made over the last two years in my own life, I stopped eating after 9 PM (at least most nights). I deleted games from my phone and instead purchased a book on my kindle app. I promised myself to take long walks. And it actually made a massive difference in my physical and mental health. Take stock of your chapter. Are things looking bad for this upcoming semester? What are the one or two small things you can do to make a difference, to make things better? Can you drag some of your pledge brothers to the next rush event? Can you help the social chair by cleaning up before the next social event? Do it! You don’t have to be a perfect Brother … just be a little better than you were yesterday. And, that will make a difference.
Resolution 5: LEAD
Take the initiative. If I’ve learned anything so far in life, it’s that nothing good is ever handed to me. Your AEPi experience is the perfect time to develop the risk-taker in you. Rather than wait for a convenient opportunity to do something you’ve wanted to do, be proactive. There is no perfect time to start on that project. Small acts apply as well. Help clean before and after an event without being asked. Make sure your guests have a ride home. Call Mom first. Imagine a world where everyone took the initiative, taking control of one task for the betterment of their friends, their family, or their fraternity. Start by attending your regional conclave to be a role model for the younger members of your chapter, or attend because you want to eventually lead your chapter to the highest heights. AEPi’s mission — developing leadership for the world’s Jewish communities — begins with you. In a tremendous article about Jewish leadership, Jonathan Sacks says, “The phrase ‘Jewish leadership’ is ambiguous. It means leadership by Jews, but it also means leadership in a Jewish way, according to Judaic principles and values.The first is common, the second rare.” I challenge you to be a leader, based in our shared values and beliefs. Leadership for our communities comes from us — from our Brothers — and now is the time for all of us to step up.
I’m not perfect. I complain a whole lot and do some harm sometimes. Some days, I just don’t feel like going out of my way to help strangers, but I’m working on it. Resolutions can be helpful when they are specific and practical. Get back in shape, eat better, yadda yadda yadda compared to: I want to improve each of these five points this year. I challenge each and every one of you reading this to do the same. I hope to hear about your progress at our regional conclaves starting at the end of January.
Happy New Year!
Kyle Whitlock serves as Alpha Epsilon Pi’s Director of Growth and Development. He is a graduate of The College of New Jersey with a B.A. in History and a certificate in Secondary Education. Kyle is a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the History Honors Society and served his chapter as Master.
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