What positive memories will you store from your 2019 experiences? How have you expressed care and concern (love) to others? How have you received the love of others?
While reading the newspaper this morning, I reflected on articles which highlighted key events of the past year, key achievements of individuals and others. I reflected on the awful bush fires that have been sweeping through Australia and parts of the USA in recent times, the floods that have hit other areas, the senseless killing of innocent people by politically motivated individuals or groups and (in my opinion) the lack of empathetic and strong leaders in our global community who genuinely want to bring about world peace, an end to poverty and the cessation of war.
We reach the end of a difficult year. A time to reflect, store the good memories, learn lessons from poor choices and then move into 2020 with new goals and thoughts. Then I thought about how my grandparents would have thought about the current state of the world.
Rumors of war
My grandparents lived through two World Wars, a Great Depression and a couple of them lived through the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Middle East conflicts. They would have witnessed the birth of Communist Russia, Communist China and the oppression during the Cold War. My guess is that they would justifiably be asking if all these wars were fought in vain? Have we learnt anything from history? Why do we bring so much suffering upon ourselves? And, they would probably be wondering what has happened to traditional family values?
They would probably be questioning the sense of ‘entitlement’ and ‘instant gratification’ that seems to exist among so many who have so many limited life experiences and are unlikely to have experienced the global events my grandparents lived through.
My grandparents would probably be wondering if the global community understands the biblical meaning of that great commandment: ‘love your neighbor as yourself’.
Relationships were important to my grandparents and they all had a reputation for helping others and reaching out to people in need in different ways and at different times.
When I retired in 2017, I vowed to myself that anything that I did in the years that followed would be focused on building community, encouraging the development of positive relationships. I continually have to work on this within my own family and in my friendships with others. My 2019 personal goals linked to relationships have been achieved, yet there is still room for improvement.
And this led me to think about some simple, yet challenging ways to approach relationships in 2020.
12 ways to be the love you wish to feel in 2020
I thought about my teaching career, mentoring and coaching work that I have done over the years, and remembered education and parenting workshops I have attended or run over the years. The one common thread that comes through all these experiences is linked to the word ‘love’. Everyone that I know of wants to ‘feel’ loved and most want to keep developing the skills linked to expressing their love to others. Most parents want their children to be ‘happy’ and this is more important to most than ‘school results’ which might surprise many.
I have taken the letters for HAPPY NEW YEAR and suggested 12 ‘ways’ – include qualities, characteristics and attitudes – to make 2020 a positive year:
Honest – a person of integrity is respected and trustworthy, models values and ethics that others wish to emulate. There is no twisting of the truth to suit personal, selfish agendas or egos.
Attitude – the wise phrase, ‘attitude determines altitude’, encourages us to take an authentic and positive attitude into the next decade and, as we do this, we are likely to establish more meaningful relationships with others, make good choices and make a positive difference in our communities.
Persevere – it is so easy to quit when the going gets tough, yet those are the times that our character is shaped and refined, and we often discover new qualities, even strengths that will define our future choices.
Patient – any change we wish to see within ourselves or in others will take time. Change does not happen overnight, so it is important to be kind to ourselves and others during a time of transition, so patience becomes a key quality to develop.
Youthful – there is probably some truth in the thinking that we are only as young as we feel. In addition, we can also improve our understanding of youth by communicating more with them and ‘listening’ to what they may or may not be saying. We remind ourselves how we felt when we were younger and trying to find our way.
Nurture – not only must we keep nurturing ourselves, but we must also work hard to guide, encourage, care for and be compassionate towards others. Never underestimate the powerful impact a smile or positive word of encouragement can have on a life.
Empathise – walking as best as we can in the shoes of others is a wonderful way to build meaningful relationships and show that we care and are trying our best to understand the space another person is in, rather than being judgmental.
Wellbeing – before we can reach out to others we must look after our own wellbeing. We can strive to lead healthy and balanced lifestyles and be a model to others on how to live such lives. This requires self-discipline, strong management of time, exercise and a good diet, as examples.
Yes! – learn to say “yes” and be a servant to others, an encourager and an authentic cheerleader, wise guide or mentor who learns to ‘love until it hurts’ (Mother Teresa). This is about looking for the positive qualities in other people and not sacrificing one’s uniqueness or individuality.
Enthusiasm – when we express an enthusiastic attitude towards others our relationships take on new meaning. Celebrate the small action steps achieved by someone striving to achieve a personal goal.
Affirm – we build people up, confirm our belief in them, speak to the potential they might not be seeing in themselves – a smile, nod of the head, thought shared in an SMS, email or card, a handshake or a hug (when appropriate).
Resilience – we look for and name strengths and help others to discover how to bounce back from setbacks and adversity and turn these moments into positive learning experiences.
A messenger of peace
In recent weeks the words of St Francis of Assisi have challenged me to adopt them as one of my 2020 prayers. These words overlap with many of the twelve thoughts shared above:
Peace Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Imagine a world in which we are all working overtime to be more caring, empathetic and compassionate people – definitely my challenge for 2020.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
About the author: Robin Cox has been a School Principal, sports coach to National Under 19 Level, Youth Symposium Organizer, developer of Youth Mentoring Programs in New Zealand and Australia, Churchill Fellow and author of books linked to youth mentoring, Peer Mentoring and the development of adolescents to become the best they can be using their God-given talents. He has trained over 1,000 volunteer adult mentors, run workshops for teachers promoting the Spirit of Mentoring and personally mentored over 1,000 adolescents. Still an idealist, a cancer survivor of 50+ years, married with two adult children, Robin lives in New Zealand and shares a passion with anyone wanting to make a positive difference in the global community. You can see his short daily mentoring tips on Facebook or contact him through his Mentoring Matters website Robin’s free Mentoring Minutes daily podcasts (each podcast between 2 and 4 minutes), containing hundreds of tips for anyone working with young people, are available here. About 45 blogs have been converted to short video clips, all of which are linked to encouraging youth to reach their potential. These are available on YouTube https://www.youtube.