9 Thoughts About Starting the New Year After the End of the World

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9 Thoughts About Starting the New Year After the End of the WorldWell, as you can see, the world didn’t end on 12/21… or did it? According to the Mayans, that momentous date did not signify a fire and brimstone apocalypse so much as it heralded the beginning of a new era…

Here are my thoughts for getting acclimated for what’s in store.

1) Slowing down – This one is important. So many of us are firing on all cylinders, all the time, that we forget why we are even doing the things we’re doing. Or else, we are so caught up in our tasks that we’ve lost touch with the deeper reasons for our existence. We may need some changes in our lives, but if we don’t allow ourselves a moment to breathe and reflect, we’ll never get the chance to identify our true needs.

2) Staying connected – There’s a reason why so many of us now have an established presence on social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. It allows us to stay connected to people all over the world. Not only do I get much of my news this way, but I get the opportunity to experience events happening across the globe and respond to them as a human being. I care about the fact that Haiti hasn’t been able to properly rebuild since the earthquake as much as I care that there are still people in Far Rockaway, NY who don’t have power since the hurricane. Schoolchildren and teachers being gunned down in Connecticut causes me as much grief as the brutal gang rape of a young woman in Delhi, India. The need for healing is universal.

3) Religious fighting needs to stop – I’m going to go out on a limb here and propose that everyone adopt a live and let live attitude on this one. Things would be so much easier and calmer, if we just allowed one another the freedom to worship or not as we pleased, without insisting that others follow our way.  Oh yeah, and imposing our religious laws on others? I’m afraid that’s gotta go, too…

4) Celebrating beauty – There is beauty everywhere. In nature, in our hearts, in our imaginations. There is beauty all around and inside us if we just allow ourselves to see it. It does not require a fancy package or gold and diamonds to qualify. We just have to be willing to appreciate it.

5) Kindness goes a long way – It’s true. In so many ways, we’ve become a sarcastic and brittle people. Humor often takes the form of laughing at one another’s misfortune or injury. I think we’ve forgotten how fragile and vulnerable we humans can actually be. A kind word, a caring gesture – these things can go a long way to stem the simmering fires of fear and resentment that may grow to fuel larger, violent outbursts in the future. We improve the quality of our collective humanity every time we show compassion for one another.

6) Observing the changes all around us – Everywhere in the world, we see change. Economic and political systems as we know them are collapsing. Weather systems are shifting in unprecedented ways. Overall, we are seeing signs that the old ways of doing things are no longer sustainable. In these failures lie great opportunities for creativity and imagination.

7) Taking care of ourselves – Each of us is a precious, vital part of the world. Whatever we choose to do with our time here on this planet, we will be better served if we are as healthy as possible. Sure, some of us are born with or develop built-in limitations. Do what you must to tend to your particular needs. Reach out for help. But don’t forget that you matter. You are important, and worth caring for in every way possible.

8) There is enough to go around – I believe this is true. In my mind, the problem is balance. This one may take some time to work out, but I do believe that as people learn that they do not necessarily need as much as they think, that they will begin to share, and we will all have more of an opportunity to experience some measure of abundance.

9) Unplugging from the old ways – This may be one of the hardest things to do. About a year ago, I realized I needed to cancel my cable television service. Part of that choice was financially motivated, as it had simply become too big of an expense. But on the other end of that choice was a desire to hear myself think. Like so many households, ours had become accustomed to the constant din of the TV set. I was regularly drawn into episodes of television dramas, contests between celebrity chefs, programs that followed people around as they looked for new homes or repaired and sold their old ones, and other stories largely fabricated to get me excited about buying into this or that lifestyle and all the products that support it.

Once I gave myself a chance to think without all of those voices constantly intruding on my consciousness, I found I had more time to do things that really mattered to me, like cleaning, cooking, listening to music, writing, dancing, spending time with my son, talking, or sharing a meal. My imagination began to flourish once again. My to-do lists started to include new and exciting projects – things beyond remembering to pay bills or make new purchases.

I guess this brings me back around to #1 – slowing down. I’m feeling ready to take a look at my life and see how I can dig down into some deeper meaning. For the first time I can remember, I’m approaching the idea of New Year’s resolutions with a different mindset. I’m not thinking about all the terrible habits I’ve got that need changing, or how dissatisfied I am with my body or my mental state. Rather, I’m reflecting on how lucky I am to be in tune with things larger than myself, and how I’d best do whatever I can to remain calm, strong and flexible in preparation for whatever comes next.

I wish you all a peaceful and happy New Year!

Deborah Oster Pannell
She is the founder of Project Mavens, a content branding & social media firm specializing in literary quality writing & editing, digital publishing via BlueViolet Press and collaborative event production.
Deborah Oster Pannell

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