This year, we spent a lovely New Year's Eve with dear friends: the food delectable and the conversation engaging. After midnight our host suggested that we share our thoughts from 2015 and our plans for 2016. We were tasked to answer three questions: For what are you most grateful from 2015? What do you wish for yourself in 2016? What do you wish for others in 2016?
It was interesting to hear the replies. In some ways, we know each other pretty well so the answers were not surprising, yet everyone had specific personal items reflecting their individuality. The thing that struck me was that the question of wishes for ourselves and others was not mutually exclusive or at least not by the answers of our friends.
What we desire most for ourselves is what would help others. Not that we are such self-less people. Rather, I think that it speaks to the paradox of in losing our lives, (or death to our selfish selves), we find life (authentic living).
It really is a balance. I know some people who err on the side of doing so much for so many that they have lost their lives. They are burnt out and have become shells of a person. But with examination of their choices, it appears that they are not completely selfless. Their constant helping has become a pride thing. It is not about helping others but more about adding another notch in the "isn't he so busy and selfless, I don't know how he does it" belt.
For those who err on the side of self-absorption there is no room to help others. These are the people who are really a bore. I just finished reading an Alexander McCall Smith book. In it he portrays a quite accurate, character study of a self-absorbed person. This character was so enamored with his looks and behavior. While he did provide a good foil and laugh, as can be expected, he was not the protagonist nor was he likable.
When we are asked about what is one thing for ourselves in the new year, I would hope it is with self growth and development in mind. We do so, not for the sole purpose of our own adulation. Our growth should aide us in our role for others and what we feel called to do.
In some ways it is like the old song, "let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me." How we respond in life should encourage others to respond likewise. Our personal goals should align with our hopes and dreams for others. Any change in the world needs to start with change and improvement in ourselves.
How would you answer those questions? For what are you grateful for 2015? What would you like for yourself in 2016? What would you like for others in 2016?