In the past, whenever I have contemplated the concept of beginning anew, my thoughts and plans tended to centre on improving upon something. Whether it was the adamant self-declaration that I was finally going to eat healthy or the fierce determination that I would write more, beginning anew meant that something about me or my situation or environment had to change.
The start of a new year usually marks the moment for me (and for many of us) when contemplation and some sort of action finally meet up and a fair attempt to change something begins. This is known popularly as a ‘New Year’s Resolution’ and it is often sparked by some sort of dissatisfaction. We are either dissatisfied with ourselves or our lives or our level of happiness. The sad thing is that we often fail to keep up with our resolutions and then we become disappointed in ourselves.
This year however, I had an inspiring thought. It was one of those wonderfully strange occurrence when a quiet thought appears unsought while I was in busy activity. It entered my heart and began to gently engage me, saying, ‘Look at me!’ The thought was this: Practice being less selfish. Make a difference to the happiness level of others.
To which the conclusion I came to was that even if I become forgetful and manage only to practice non-selfishness sometimes, I would have still done so much good because of those other times. Let’s face it, we sometimes think we know what we want but we often don’t or at least don’t achieve it. If we focus on others, we are at least achieving it for others. Ann Frank wrote, ‘How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.’
Of course, I am not suggesting that we sacrifice ourselves to the detriment of our health and well-being. What I am suggesting is that small sacrifices for others can go a long way to making someone feel valued. To start with:
Turn off the TV to phone a friend or write a letter
Visit someone and surprise them with a service or small gift
Say, ‘Yes’ (when it feels like the right thing)
Listen without interrupting
Write a praise letter to a Manager of someone who gave you great customer service (Inspired by my husband who always does this–Thanks Dearheart)
Organize meals for someone who just had a baby or just came out of hospital
Accept every gift graciously (Inspired by a story author Susun Weed tells about accepting a salami sandwich from a stranger sitting next to her on the plane–even though she was a Vegetarian, she thanked her and ate it!)
Offer a cold drink to your neighbour who is outside doing some DIY on a summer day
Scrape the ice off your spouse’s car for them
Walk your neighbour’s dog when they are ill
Pay genuine honest compliments
My grandmother once saved all the colour by numbers pictures in the Sunday papers so when I visited, she had something for me to do.
My sister-in-law collected story books on CD from newspapers and gave them to my kids as a surprise gift.
These are just a few ideas. If you have any good ideas of your own, please comment below.
Happy Belated New Year Everyone!