Traditionally, New Year is a time for adopting new resolutions. I don’t follow this custom as such, but I do assess what I have worked on over the previous 12 months to decide if and how I might modify my approach.
This year, five qualities stand out which have become valuable to me and which I believe might be beneficial if recognised more widely:
Industry: Having endured a pandemic, the disruption of war and the fallout from both, more than ever we need action, whether small steps to improve ourselves or larger efforts to help other individuals and communities. Being industrious – using our time productively – can achieve so much. Putting aside the mountain of criticism, conjecture and blame we now scatter indiscriminately online, both in work and leisure time, industry can produce real achievement to benefit one and all.
Honesty: How honest are we, especially with ourselves? It can seem easier to pull the wool over our own eyes when we don’t want to admit something, devise a little self-deceptive lie or ignore the question, but reality usually comes back to bite us when we try to ignore it. Facing up to what discomforts us can ease it ultimately, but demands courage up front.
Grace: For longer than I can remember, suggestions that noise, speed and edginess bring more pleasure have made human life more brutal, cruel and shallow than I have ever known. Gentleness, elegance and goodness are less often encouraged, even though they can bring fulfilment.
Kindness: Once, holding a door open for someone was an act of kindness. Now our motives are likely to be questioned, as we are conditioned in suspicion. A smile, a kind word, a helping hand – all are treasures that we need to share with others.
Repose: Hand in hand with industry, repose refreshes us and restores our energy and enthusiasm. Just as plants withdraw into themselves in winter to regenerate unseen, so calm and respite maintain our capability for industry.
As a typical human jumble of competing and conflicting thoughts, emotions, responses and desires, my continued focus on this handful will require much industry in 2023.