The holidays are joyful for most. After all, we are given extra time off work. Sweets and special foods are served. Gifts are often exchanged. But the thoughtful will also experience emotions of longing, a desire for something more. This feeling is given ritual form in the Christian calendar with Epiphany and Lent. In the secular calendar the New Year is ritualized. In any case, most recognize that this time is ripe for change. The old is passing away, the new has begun. Bad habits can be set to rest, good habits taken up.

Unlike much of the U.S. population, for Marines and Sailors habits of physical fitness are already ingrained and institutionally supported. This is not to say that there is not room for most of us to better ourselves. However, resolutions about losing weight, stopping tobacco, eating better, saving money and the like can mask addressing deeper matters. One way you may get at these deeper matters is to ask yourself the question, “Why?” Why lose weight or save money? You may think the answer is obvious. “Because I don’t want to be taped at weigh-in” or “Because I want a boat.” But then ask the question again, “Why?” and then ask “Why?” again and again. This very simple method may help you to explore what you really value.

You may be surprised by what you really value and you may discover that the goals you were setting were not the best way to live out those values. For example, “I want to save money, because I want to buy a boat. I want to buy a boat because I want to learn new things and spend time with my family in an unplugged and natural environment. However, I can read books and tinker in the garage now. I can camp with my family now. No boat is needed. Money saved can go toward other values, cool. I reminded myself that I can live out my values right now and I barely need to spend money at all to do it.”

So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I pray God delight you and empower you this season to live the New Year with wisdom and courage.

Editor’s note: The Chaplain’s Corner covers everything faith related. Facts not attributed are purely the opinion of the writer.