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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!

19 comments:

  1. Josie, I wish I had the ability to express myself the way you do. Sadly, I don't. I feel but have trouble putting my feelings into words.

    Kindness, compassion, and tolerance are wonderful gifts. They are even more wonderful when we strive to make them part of our innerself. The past year has taught me lessons that I never understood before. I like to believe that those lessons have brought me even closer to being the person I want to be. . . kind, compassionate, and tolerant.

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  2. Ahh Mary, mostly I have verbal leakage... I start writing and ramble on too long! :-) Yes, most certainly it is the hard times that teach us what we are made of and what we most admire in others. At our weakest moments acts of true kindness and compassion are worth far more than all the money we could imagine. Life is one big learning experience, bit by bit we catch on to the bigger meaning and the importance of being true to what we believe. I've always found you to be kind, compassionate and caring... and I'm just as certain you are that way in real life!

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  3. I believe you put it in a good way!

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  4. Thanks, JY! I'd sure love to see you make another foray in blogland as well! :-) I miss the ol' gang!

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  5. 'One day at a time' is definitely the best way ahead..and I agree with the others, you express yourself very clearly..Jae

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  6. Thank you Jaerose! We can't do anything about yesterday and very little about tomorrow, so it's best to focus most of our energy on making today count!

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  7. some very good thoughts... I try to wake each morning and ask myself if I am a better person today than I was yesterday. My goal this year is get more yes answers than no answers.

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  8. That's an interesting question to ponder, GS. I'm not sure I often improve myself much from day to day. I probably need to ask myself if I am going to try harder to be a better person today. Too often my best intentions dissipate well before noon.

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  9. Great post Josie. The bells of recognition were ringing loudly in my ears... "helloooooo, are you hearing this Reinsey". I too battle the intolerance civil war, but, if I become truly tolerant of everyone, does that dilute my own personal standards? Not that I expect others to live by them, but they are my own unit of measurement. And yes, I would be that Olympic diving judge who turns over my 5 card when the other countries reveal 7 & 8. Harsh! :)

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  10. Reinsey, I too really struggle with the fine line of tolerance. If we see no line between good and bad or acceptible and in acceptible, aren't we contibuting to the general apathy regarding the loss of morality in our society? I would rather err on the side of being thought a rabble-rouser, and take the risk of speaking out when I feel it's called for. I just need to learn to take better care in guarding my reactions so that I don't use righteous indignation as a cover for thinking I know all the answers and only my way is the right way. I know it's not! I am willing to give people a chance, and a chance for their position to be heard, but if I sense their beliefs or actions are imposing or injurious to someone else... look out, I'm pulling out all the stops! :-)

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  11. I really liked your analogy of the diving score card, Reinsey. Yup, that would be me too, and probably I'd turn up 4s for me. I guess that means I have more work to do! But I'm also an advocate for trying to get people to list good points. You'd be amazed how difficult it is for most folks to do that, yet we are so quick to admit to our faults!

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  12. honesty is cool,
    lovely progress entry.

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  13. Thank you Jingle! Yes, honesty is cool... and refreshing!! :-)

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  14. G'day , I had a look back through your posts and remembered you. It is great to see you back in here again.
    Like you I often wonder if the me I see is the same as others see me. I also liked after reading this post that us humans are the same all around the world where ever we live and what ever our up bringing.

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  15. Hi Josie -- I am so appreciating having a chance to read back on your thoughts -- their mirror helps me reflect on myself. And sometimes, I'm a little tarnished so it helps to read someone who is clear in their thinking.

    When I am balanced, feeling 'in esteem', I easily radiate kindness, tolerance, compassion, honesty, integrity, heart, empathy...

    When I am feeling rushed, out of sorts, unappreciated (all based on the stories I tell myself), my balance suffers and so do my actions.

    Interesting thought's you've posted.

    thanks!

    And my blog today will refer to you again! With remembering where I read such thought provoking thoughts! :)

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  16. Hi Linda, glad to see you stopping round! I am always fascinated by that same thing... that people the world over are more alike than different. We all have the same needs, desires, fears, and joys. If everyone realized that we ARE family, wouldn't it be a nice world to live in?!

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  17. M.L.you put it so wisely... when we feel good about ourselves we treat other people good, when we are disgruntled our unhappiness spills over into how we respond to the people around us. I loved the post you just wrote about kindness and will be doing a post linking to it tonight or tomorrow. I'm delighted to have you as a new friend in my family of fellow bloggers!

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  18. Wow. I am honoured to have contributed to this wonderful post you have written in some way. It's very true that those qualities we hold in such high regard like tolerance can be hard to put into practice (especially with people we don't like) - I guess that implementing those qualities is a work in progress for most of us.

    I also very much value straightforwardness and so many of the other qualities you have mentioned. If we were able to incoporate those qualities more regularly into our lives, the world would indeed be a better place!

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  19. THank you so much Selma! Your post really made me stop and think and the more I thought the more I just had to say more about it! So often what you write inspires me, or strikes a resonant chord. We are certainly members of the same tribe. :-)

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)