Tony Rossi, Director of Communications, The Christophers
Transform Your Life with MicroShifts
Gary Jansen was recently struck by the thought of his own mortality. The husband and father of two
sons suddenly asked himself, “What if I’m not here next year?” Gary decided to write a book of lessons
for his kids that they could apply to their lives. Then he realized these lessons, grounded in the Ignatian
idea of finding God in all things, could benefit adults as well. That project became his book “MicroShifts: Transforming Your Life One Step at a Time.”
As Gary said during a “Christopher Closeup” interview, the concept of “Micro” shifts is important because he knows from experience that “making small changes in the way that you live, pray, and communicate with people or God can, over time, have big, powerful results.”
Sometimes this involves a change in habit, but it can also mean a change in perception. For instance, Gary gained a new view of the connection between our bodies and souls after a challenging period several years ago. “For a long time,” he recalled, “I thought I was going through a bad depression. I was struggling through work, through life, through my relationships. I got so tired one day that I actually fell asleep and got eight hours of sleep. Before that I was getting four and a half, five maybe.”
Gary woke up the next morning feeling like a new man. He was more energetic and hopeful than he had been in a long time. His body’s weariness, he realized, had affected his mind and soul, so he began paying more attention to the small changes he could make that could have a big impact.
Another major player in Gary’s approach is St. Ignatius Loyola and his spirituality that searches for God in all things. Gary said, “If there was garbage on the street, St. Ignatius would say, ‘Where’s God in the garbage?’ We can find God in sunsets, in flowers, in times when we feel in love with people and the work that we’re doing. But what about those times we’re going through the garbage of life?...Once I started embracing the Ignatian spirituality of trying to find God in all the good stuff, and all the bad stuff too, that was transformative.”
It’s not easy to take such a transcendent view of life, but Gary once had an encounter with a homeless man that drove this point home. This man is seen as “the town drunk” and often gets aggressive with people. He approached Gary for money, but Gary didn’t have any so he began to move away. Then he noticed the homeless man’s eyes.
Gary said, “I had this vision of him as a little boy. I don’t know what happened to him since then, but at some point his mom held him or a nurse held him and showed him love. Maybe he was a kid that felt ostracized. Maybe he was in a really bad situation at home. Once I started trying to say, ‘What if that was me?’…there was…this change in perception. Everybody out there was, at one point, a child and there was a lot of hope there. And at some point something changed…I’m not asking you to be a doormat to people. But at the same time there’s an opportunity to take a step back and live with compassion. One of the ways to do that is to imagine this person was a child at some point, and to uplift that and value that.”
For free copies of the Christopher News Note GET YOURSELF SPIRITUALLY FIT, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org