Yes, it’s that time of the year again: time to turn in our old calendars for the new. Time to start new projects, and hopefully finish up the old projects first, which is really expecting a lot of ourselves. It’s also time to muse over what we wish we could change, and hopefully start on those things we hope to change and even endeavor to make an effort to change. It’s time to consider the new you.
I would dare say that most people don’t give change its due, and pretty much stay as they are, whether it’s because they think they are perfectly fine as is, they are just too lazy to bother changing, or they really don’t know how to see themselves through the eyes of others or even the eyes of their own higher self and try for that new, improved, and desired better self.
If we could all accept the honest appraisal of others when it comes to learning what could use a little remodeling in our own personality, we might want to change that one little thing — or ten big things — about ourself to be more socially acceptable to family and friends, or even more lovable to that one person who loves us no matter what.
Many people think their particular way of interacting with others is cute, charming, funny, or in any case so unique that it’s bound to be appreciated by all concerned, and to change anything would be out of the question. Does that ring a New Year’s bell with anyone? Who might come to mind?
Fortunately or unfortunately, as the case may be, we not only can’t accept the honest appraisal of others when it comes to their telling us what we might need to change to make a giant improvement in the way we are perceived by others, but we can’t make that appraisal of others or even of ourselves. If we could see ourselves as others do, chances are we would have made certain changes long ago. And quite frankly, who are we to state the standards that others should live up to? We
know how we would feel if someone came up to us and told us that they think we need to change the way we tell jokes or wear our hair. We know what we might be thinking if someone told us that we need to use a softer voice or be more generous to the various charitable causes that ask for donations every holiday season. Who the heck are they to tell us how to be or what to do? (And that’s stating it mildly.)
The few people that would take such “helpful” commentary or criticism to heart may well already be giving themselves the old New Year’s Eve onceover, planning to be more generous to certain particular charities, kinder to their coworkers and family members, leaving off the snide and sarcastic remarks that always start a squabble, and perhaps doing it all in their “indoor voice,” especially when speaking to their colleagues at work, their family members at dinner, or those horribly unhelpful customer service representatives on the phone that do anything but help. And those very same people who may be trying for that New Year’s Eve onceover may be telling themselves that they ought to be less critical of others, that by accepting others as they are — loud voices, out-of-date clothing, bad haircuts, stupid jokes, thoughtless habits and so forth — they will be improving their own personality and making life easier for those around them. Yes, it is their colleague, mother, friend or neighbor who badly needs to make some changes to be a more socially-acceptable and likeable person, yet since that particular update is not about to happen, the one who has gone within and realized that he or she needs to be more loving and accepting of all others will be the one to change.
Perhaps some persist in their ways merely to spite others — as in, ‘who could be nice to him?’ or, ‘she’s so mean and spiteful nobody could be nice to her,’ or the like — or because they just never learned how to stop an automatic reaction and turn it into an intended action.
If anyone really chooses to give themselves an end-of-year or life-so-far evaluation, they might see that people are not pleased with their loud and boorish bad jokes or their insulting and so-called humorous way of telling someone what they should do or should have done. One simple trick behind the ability to do a self-evaluation is to just listen to others when they make comments to you, don’t laugh at your jokes, or leave the room when you think you’re being funny, and then take all of those reactions to YOU to heart. Observe their faces for signs of shock or dismay at what you’ve said or done and realize that it is up to you not to say or do that kind of thing again. Wouldn’t you really prefer to be liked more and even be included in some of those moments when they would normally see you coming and go the other way?
Life is lived on a day-to-day basis, but is really a moment-to-moment experience. What we repeatedly do becomes our habit, for better or worse. Let’s be in charge of our habits instead of having our habits rule us.
Therefore, as we look out at those around us and wonder why they continue to tell us their annoying stories or wear those unfashionable or out-of-date clothes, that might be the very time to wonder if they might be thinking that we are crude, rude or downright unkind. Are we?
This coming year, maybe each of us can be the bigger person and learn to accept each other as we are, but also be big enough to tell the truth if anyone really wants our opinion on why nobody has been inviting them to any parties lately.
So, as I wish you all a much better year in 2016 than you might have had in 2015, including all the happiness that can find its way to you, I also hope you’ll find a moment to reflect on what you might want to leave behind, once and for all, as you at least intend to become — if not your best, then — a better you.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.