Monday, December 27, 2010

Etiquette for the New Year

The time has come once again to begin to set our sights on the fast approaching New Year. It's Christmas after all and a time for most of us when our families get together to celebrate this joyous holiday. We can look back over the past year and contemplate the many blessings we have received. For me, the year was one for new endings and new beginnings. As I often do, near the start of a new year, I make a list of all of the projects I would like to start or finish during the coming year, dividing them into business, personal, and spiritual. This helps me to set goals and to monitor my progress throughout the year, making necessary adjustments along the way. It's interesting to compare the lists from year to year and in so doing, catch a glimpse of how I am changing both within myself and in my relationship to others. This is a very grounding activity, one which allows reflection as well as an opportunity to be grateful.

The world is facing some very tough challenges in the coming year. Across the globe many societies are in dire need of help. The planet is experiencing the effects of global warming and we are waking up to the idea that we must act responsibly as stewards in order to avert almost certain disaster. The economy is forcing many of us to endure struggles we had never hoped for. And, in many ways, we are coming together as humans to work to solve these problems more cohesively than ever before.

Those of you who have followed this column may have noticed that I have emphasized the need for compassion in our every day lives. What we do every day and how we do it is in fact the etiquette by which we choose to live our lives. The choices we make affect those around us continually. Being aware of how much of an impact we have on others helps us in making our choices. Therefore the more aware we are of what we are doing, the more careful we will be in how we choose to do it. Although this principle is widely accepted, it comes with no manual, no set of instructions on how to make the best choices we can.

During this coming year, I hope people will feel more comfortable putting others first, even if only a little bit more than they do now. I hope we can all learn to give ourselves and each other a break, even if only a little more frequently than we do now. And I hope we can protect our children from making uninformed and potentially harmful choices, even if we reach out to only one child more than we already do. If we all made a conscious effort in the coming year to be a little bit less self absorbed, a little bit more patient, and a little bit more compassionate, especially toward ourselves, we will wake up one day to a happier and more peaceful world.

The golden rules of etiquette will never go out of style and how we choose to use them will define who we really are to the world. Be kind always. Be truthful in all communications. Be grateful for everything. Respect all creatures equally. Have a wonderful New Year filled with joy, good health and many magical moments!