Survival Kit for the New Year
The Sunday Scribblings prompt for this week is "Progress". What follows are my thoughts on making progress in my personal life...
I don't make New Year's resolutions because I never keep them, but Selma's First Day Thoughts resonated with me, and started me thinking about which character traits I believe are important and want to better manifest in my life in the coming year. I think of them as a "survival kit", a way to navigate life in a manner that uplifts me and those I encounter.
Selma listed kindness, compassion, and tolerance as qualities that "are lights shining on the water". What a beautiful description of how one's character can impact other lives! Am I a kind person? Am I compassionate? Tolerant? My first response is "Well, yes, I think I am like that." Then I think on it a little harder and realize that yes, I am... but only when I want to be. At times I can be very hard on others and even harder on myself.
I am generally kind to most folks, but if someone hurts me too much, or hurts someone I care about, or behaves in a manner that offends me, all kindness goes out the window and I can act pretty ugly in response.
I believe that I am compassionate and, because I've lived a colorful life, I have the ability to empathize with what most folks are going thru. Usually I've either done it myself, or know someone who has. I can accept weaknesses and shortcomings in others because I have so many. But, if I feel someone is milking their issues for attention and dramatic effect, I can quickly become cold and have been known to slice and dice them with my words.
I preach tolerance loudly, which isn't always welcomed in redneck country where I live. But am I tolerant of the intolerant? Definitely no. Refer to "slice and dice" above! :-) In truth, I am only tolerant of things I choose to tolerate. If I don't approve, tolerance doesn't even enter into the picture. Sometimes that's a good thing... a little righteous indignation is healthy, but too often it's Josie on the soapbox expounding on someone else's evil ways. Better check out that reflection in the mirror Josie dearest! Kindness, compassion and tolerance, in their true and unjustified forms, are definitely character traits I want to manifest more clearly this coming year.
What other characteristics would I like to exemplify? What's important to me? Honesty - and no half-truths or varnishing; straight forwardness - telling it like you see it and not playing games; fairness - not treating one person different from another without very good reason and also being reasonable and just in what we expect of others ; perseverance - the ability to hang in there and push thru against all odds; humor - the ability to laugh at oneself and others essential to the preservation of sanity (or some semblance thereof :-); filtering - monitoring one's actions and words with consideration of the effect and outcome; respect - knowing how to conduct yourself in the presence of someone who is worthy of such esteem and who has proven themselves to be further along on the spiritual path; faith - belief in something or someone greater than ourselves and belief that there is a plan to our lives and all life; hope - hope is essential to life, without it there is no point, no motivation, and no energy to proceed thru dark times; and most important of all, love - love of self, love of others, love of created things, love of life and the possibilities it holds for us. Love is the strongest force in the world!
When I am being honest with myself, I see clearly which characteristics I manifest, or think I do, and which ones are scarcely making a showing. When I ask others I trust what they think of me, I am often surprised by their responses - sometimes pleasantly, and sometimes giving pause for a little inner reflection. There are certainly some areas I need to work on!
I have learned in recent years that I do best if my goals are daily, I preach that to my daughter - get thru one day at a time and make it count! So I will ask myself on this first night of the new year, and on each succeeding night... Was I kind today? Was I compassionate? Was I honest, was I fair? Where did I do right and where did I fall short? How can I do better tomorrow? I agree with Selma that if we all stopped to ponder these things now and then, the world would be a much better place to be. Here's to character building in 2011!
What character traits are most important to you?
Read other writer's thoughts on progress at Sunday Scribblings... good stuff!