Let's Make New Year's Resolutions
That Benefit Others
By: Connie Kwan-Wong
I propose we make the first resolution of 2019 to become more selfless. In the past, we may have been concerned about our health, so resolved to eat more plant-based foods, throw out the salty snacks, and exercise regularly. These are all admirable resolutions, and, if we were able to see them through, have resulted in positive change. Now that we’ve taken care of ourselves, we are in even better shape to help others.
With the holiday season upon us, we can begin our 2019 resolutions in 2018 by making our second resolution one to improve Thanksgiving and Christmas for those who are struggling. Many families, as we know, are not as fortunate as we are. They, however, are just as deserving of a joyous holiday season. Participating in food and toy drives at local restaurants and grocery stores, becoming a secret Santa by replacing a name on a giving tree with a gift, donating to the Salvation Army, serving Christmas breakfast or Thanksgiving lunch at a local food bank, or participating in any other community driven holiday effort is a sure way to make that happen.
To fulfill our first resolution, that of becoming more selfless in the New Year, there are many things we can do. Let’s take a close look at four of them:
Be a Better Friend and Family Member
Life is hectic, and sometimes that means we forget to call or visit a friend or family member just to say “hello” or to let them know we are thinking of them. Even when life is busy, people are going through things in their personal lives we may not be aware of. Calling a friend to ask how they are may be just what they need to help them through a difficult day. Visiting an older family member with less in their lives than they once had can make the difference between a day that stretches on for hours and one that goes by quickly and creates new memories. In both instances, knowing
you thought of them and cared enough to call or visit will replace a dark moment with a sunny one.
Be a Better Listener
We are all caring human beings. When something is troubling someone we love, we do our best to sit down with them and listen to them explain what is wrong. As they talk, we try to figure out in our minds what we are going to say to make their situation better or help them solve their problem. Although this is well-intentioned it’s not actually listening. Though we don’t realize it, most of us listen to respond, not to understand. By so doing, our response may actually not address what the person is saying to us at all. By being better listeners and listening to understand, we can think of what our response will be after the person is finished speaking. It will probably be something that addresses the actual problem. Sometimes, too, we must realize that the person doesn’t want a response, only to have someone listen so they themselves can work the problem through.
Be More Philanthropic
As 2019 begins, and the activities of the holidays are dying down, perhaps it is time to research a nonprofit organization or charity to help with. This can be done by first making a short list of the qualities you want in such an organization.
For instance: it assists children and their families, all the funds it raises go to its cause, it has a clear mission statement that describes exactly what it does, and it is established and has been successful in its mission. Once you have decided on the qualities you want in a charity, go online or visit the offices of various charities and gather the information you need to make an informed decision. Talking with someone in the organization, or someone involved with it as a volunteer, is also a good idea. Once this is accomplished, decide how you will support the charity. Will you volunteer, donate money, or do both?
There are remarkable accounts in newspaper and magazine articles and in newscasts describing how something as simple as a smile from a stranger has stopped someone from causing harm to themselves or someone else. Everyday niceties such as smiling; saying “thank you” when someone holds a door for you; holding a door for someone else; giving your seat on the train to an elderly person, an expectant mother, or a parent with a baby carriage; offering to help carry a stroller up a staircase when there are no elevators around; picking up something someone has dropped and returning it to them; and apologizing when accidentally bumping someone in crowded surroundings sometimes get lost in our modern world. Let’s make it a point to bring them back and be mindful of them daily. By doing so, we can make a difference in a moment or maybe even a life.
The purpose of the resolutions mentioned above is to be more selfless by helping others. One of the outcomes of doing so, however, along with bringing joy and comfort, is that we are happier. By truly committing ourselves to selfless acts without thinking of how we might benefit from them, we inadvertently give ourselves the gift of happiness. That is just fine. The joy we get from doing so will only make us want to do it more.