And a Happy New Year

“The actions of many can spur from the resolve of one.”

The end of the year signals one thing for many people and that is getting together a list of New Year’s resolutions. No matter how difficult or great this last year has been, the tradition of making a list can be of great importance.

It is believed this ritual began with the ancient Babylonians who were also the first to hold a celebration in honor of the passing of another year. One of the rituals included in this 12-day event was pledging to pay off debts that had been accumulated, and also to return anything that was borrowed. These promises were the predecessors of the modern-day New Year’s resolutions.

It makes complete sense why this custom would continue into the present. Anyone who struggled throughout the previous year was ready for better things to come. And there’s no more optimum time to start than at the beginning of a new year.

It is part of our nature to want improvement. However, that doesn’t mean we are necessarily “wired” to do so. Progress generally requires effort, planning, and work which is often contrary to our nature. By and large, repeating meaningful habits helps instill these kinds of behaviors and makes us more prone to operate in this way.

If you are planning on making a few resolutions yourself and truly plan on keeping them, make sure they are ones which your actions actually control. For instance, if you work with a group of people and want things to run more smoothly, your resolution should be based on what you can do and not expect others to do so because it’s your decision. Or perhaps you have written a book and want it to be published. Rather than making a goal of being discovered by a publisher, resolve to contact as many as you can to submit your work.

One of the worst things we can do to our character is to make promises and not carry them through. Our word, in short, is who we are and how we perceive ourselves. Setting goals that depend on others is risky and often a crapshoot where the odds are not in our favor.

I have not been a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions but I would never hinder or mock anyone who is. The only time I recall making one was in 2015 and that was to finish my book before the end of the year. It was completed on Christmas day.

If there were a way I could make a resolution for the entire world, it would have to be that each person -no matter what age, gender, race, or culture- would resolve to be more compassionate and caring to our fellow human beings. 2018 has shown us all kinds of division, strife, and hatred; enough that it has done everything but prove it doesn’t work. It’s time we all start putting out the fires of hate with the quenching of kindness. Instead of taking advantage of the vulnerable, let us take the opportunity to spread hope and love. This kind of resolve would create such an impact that it would nearly make the world unrecognizable – in a very good way.

Thanks to all my readers. I continue to be inspired by all the kindness you have shown me. And thanks to Ghost Presenter on Unsplash for the beautiful photo. For more information about him, find out more by clicking here. I look forward to your comments and what new themes will unfold in my 2019 articles.

The Gift

Photo by Ivan Jevtic on Unsplash

“Love is a gift which all of us fashion in our own way.”

With Christmas right around the corner, giving gifts is on the mind of many. December is filled with traditional and religious celebrations which are centered around giving to others. Deciding precisely on what that gift should be can be a point of contention as well as extreme frustration. It often turns out to be a dreadful experience rather than something which should be joyfully anticipated.

This time of year would be much simpler for everyone if there were only one item that appeared on everyone’s list. Sort of a “Universal Gift” that would satisfy each person regardless of age, gender, race, or social status. No doubt if any entrepreneur were clever enough to come up with it, that company would become an overnight success. While there have been hundreds of ideas which have sparked close to universal appeal, none have been in the possession of every person on the planet.

What can be even more frustrating is when others ask what you would like for a holiday gift. Answering that question truthfully – and without putting the person in financial peril – may be even more challenging than figuring out what to get others. Again, if only that “Universal Gift” were available it would alleviate an enormous amount of stress.

Is it possible that someday someone will dream up such an idea; one which will be found on every person and in every household on the entire planet? Chances are a product with this much global appeal will never be dreamed up; however, there is one gift which we all can give to ourselves that ought to have this kind of worldwide allure. That “product” is none other than the gift of self love.

Perhaps there is no more overlooked human capability than having self love (which is purposely not hyphenated). It has been given a bad reputation by cultures and religions. Self love does not mean selfish love nor does it demand we put ourselves first. It means that we can accept ourselves as we are; being grateful when good things happen to us and learning to change those things we believe are our shortcomings.

Loving one’s self means getting a greater understanding of who we are because having that kind of confidence allows us to be more accepting and less afraid of others. It does not seek its own interest nor dishonor others. It doesn’t anger easily and never thrills in other’s humiliation or defeat.

Many have been improperly taught that self love is egotistical but if that was the case, it would not be love. For some, loving oneself first is the best way to learn to love others. For there is nothing in the meaning of self love that puts us on a pedestal, looks down on others, or makes us superior to anyone.

There are several ways of showing or articulating love and it is up to each of us as individuals to define and express them. As the year concludes, let us learn to love ourselves more and not for our own advancement, but to celebrate our journey and make this world a better place because of this precious gift we have given ourselves.

My thanks to Ivan Jevtic for the beautiful rose. Find out more about him by clicking here. Happy Holidays and I look forward to your comments.

A Rebellion like none other

Photo by James Chou on Unsplash

“Changing one’s behavior is not always a matter of repetition but a deeper understanding of why it needs to be changed.”

The last several posts have focused on positive behaviors like gratitude, thankfulness, and similar emotions. Although many of today’s headlines may attest to the decline of such virtues, that doesn’t mean we need to resonate, comply, nor endorse them. It’s high time the world become a better example of these values, but that won’t happen by simply expecting others to be the ones to improve theirs.

It doesn’t take long to hear about or even witness actions which we may consider despicable and wonder how someone could act that way. Many appear to sit in the “stadium of life” and watch others as though it were a spectator sport and critique them as if it were their calling. Even if those assessments were spot-on, wondering, hoping, or demanding someone else change rarely is a catalyst for success.

Realizing why we unwittingly analyze others is rather simple; because wanting someone else to change is much less effort and far easier than creating a change in ourselves. Transforming anything within us means two things: first of all, having to admit to a shortcoming; and secondly, it can be a lot of work.

It is, however, time for all of us to begin a personal rebellion. A revolution which will revamp everyone of our individual journeys. Instead of expecting others to change, let us strive to become better versions of ourselves. Be vigilant and mindful of how we can better improve our own virtues and continually practice and raise them so they are not only apparent but become part of our being and purpose. Each morning as we glance in the mirror to make sure we are presentable, add to it peering into our souls to see how this kind of ritual will enhance us and the world at large.

There are many professions requiring ongoing practice to improve or simply maintain a particular level of skills. The very same is true with constructive behaviors. These actions may not always occur naturally and in order for them to increase, a conscious effort is needed to make it happen.

Include as well in that rebellion, an effort to augment, validate, and positively engage them in others. Unfortunately, many in today’s society interpret kindness, compassion, and sincerity as weakness; almost as an opportunity to strike an unarmed victim. But that interpretation could not be further from the truth. It takes an enormous amount of strength and will to have integrity, remain kind, or have compassion.

Loud, brash, and impudent behaviors take no effort or skill whatsoever. While they can be great for entertaining values, that is precisely where they should remain. The last thing that kind of conduct represents is good leadership. It is a blaring indicator showing lack of self-confidence, patience, and knowing what to do. Blaming others is a feeble attempt to cover up your own inadequacies and failures.

This week, see how many times you can deliberately strive to display all types of positive emotions and encourage it in others. It takes a lot of work but there are multitudes out there who will gladly follow in your footsteps. My thanks to James Chou of Unsplash for the wonderful picture. Find out more about him by clicking here. I look forward to your comments.

The Law of Supply and Demand

Photo by Robert Lukeman of Unsplash

“There will never be enough kindness to fulfill the world’s need.”

One of the thrills from writing these articles is interacting with fascinating people from around the globe and reading the comments on how these posts have impacted them. What’s even more remarkable is when those comments prompt the idea for the very next article and last week’s (click here to read it) was no exception. 

The premise was centered on a different sort of recession; not one economically based but an emotional one suggesting that good intention, kindness, and compassion are diminishing. A comment by Cecilia Raldua Martin stated, “there is too much economic interest, and kindness and good behaviors are decreasing.” This inspired me to continue with another financial analogy. 

From a business standpoint, supply and demand has influenced the price of goods and services since business first began to be transacted. Besides influencing pricing, it has also spurred ingenuity, increased productivity, and maximized efficiency. It is perhaps one of the oldest principles of commerce and no doubt one of the first things taught in business classes.

Applying this basic rule used everyday in transactions ought to be easily adaptable in the realm of human interaction; demonstrating kindness, good intention, and gratitude to our fellow humans. Although the key to its implementation may warrant an approach from a different angle.

When a revolutionary invention hits the market, everyone clamors to get one. This demand pushes its value upwards. When the luster wears off, the demand decreases forcing down the price and possibly causing it to vanish altogether.

What needs to occur in our daily communications with others is not only to raise the demand for positive interaction but also reject spiteful, cruel, and hateful behaviors. When there is no longer a demand or reward or such actions, people will stop using them. 

Unfortunately in today’s climate, degrading and humiliating the opposition is being admired and the reply regrettably, is to find ways of being more repulsive. This type of response only creates a greater demand for more deplorable rhetoric and the supply continues to grow. We must begin to reject this conduct and refuse to support it. When politicians spew hateful language, they must be mightily defeated. 

Those running for office are not the only ones from whom this behavior should not be accepted. The first person we should examine is ourselves. Let us be the example for all to hold in high esteem. Expecting something from others and excusing ourselves is duplicitous and insincere. And it’s typically the mindset behind those who use hurtful speech in the first place.

It may seem like an impossible task but it’s never too late to become the change we hope to see in this world. I believe there are myriads of people who would gladly add to the supply of gratitude, gratefulness, and integrity if there were only a greater demand for it to be applied.

My thanks to Robert Lukeman for the beautiful picture. Find out more about him by clicking here. I look forward to your comments and possibly next week’s inspiration.

A different sort of recession

Photo By Jessica Knowlden of Unsplash

“Showing compassion during the difficult times is an investment in your well-being.”

There can never be enough discussion about thankfulness, gratitude or compassion. In last week’s article (click here to read it) the positive side effects of compassion were discussed. It takes little effort to be kindhearted when being echoed back to you but how determined are you to exhibit it when it’s not reciprocated? 

There are benefits, particularly emotionally, that accompany thoughtful attitudes and actions. It touches the heart of the intended receiver as well as those exuding it. It is a gift which would be foolish to refuse and even simply hearing the stories can put smiles on faces. With all that going for it, why are the headlines dominated instead by acts of anger, repression, and intimidation?

Although most of us have no control over what is published or broadcast, the general consensus seems to be that adversity and strife garner far more interest than decency and dignity, translating into higher advertising revenues. Yet there’s no denying that compassionate stories of human kindness are much more appreciated than those exhibiting criminal and reckless behaviors. 

There is evidence indicating the world has bounced back from the Great Recession of 2008 but it appears we are experiencing a recession of a different sort. It’s no longer an economic one but an emotional recession of good intention, kindness, and compassion. Unfortunately, it is becoming more fashionable to be divisive and derogatory toward those who don’t share your view and many don’t hesitate to parade this rude and childish conduct.

The antidote is a simple one and not too difficult of a fix. This predicament, I believe, was created because in general, people are tired of showing gratitude and not having it reciprocated. When good works are repaid with disregard and contempt, people are less likely to repeat kindness the next time. Combine that with antagonistic behavior displayed by many leaders, it weakens and diminishes the resolve of many who would otherwise try to show their gratitude.

What people need are more signs that others are determined to demonstrate positive interactions. Most are very willing to do it but don’t want to be ignored or even shunned for their efforts. We must, however, realize that the only way to get out of this recession is to individually resolve to exhibit thankfulness, gratitude, and compassion; in addition, complimenting others when they do.

We have become so focused on our daily lives that the simple gifts are being overlooked and not celebrated. One of the most important acts being disregarded is kindness towards one another. The Golden Rule implores us to treat others as we would want to be treated and it’s difficult to imagine anyone would wish to be treated with rudeness, disrespect, and hostility.

 Where the difficulty arises in maintaining your resolve to be kind is when other’s actions may not warrant it. These situations will occur but if at all possible, stay determined to keep a positive attitude. It’s never a good thing to allow the adverse opinions of others to negatively impact your human kindness.

My thanks to Jessica Knowlden for the beautiful picture. You can find out more about her by clicking here. Thank you as always and I look forward to your comments.