The tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions reflects one the very best qualities of human nature – the ability to reflect on and assess our lives in terms of the goals we set for ourselves and the principles we believe in. It’s still not too late to formulate a self-improvement plan to make our outer lives and inner selves better by adopting more positive attitudes, living up to our highest values, and strengthening our relationships.
Start with your attitudes, the way you think and feel about important things like your job, the people in your life, and, of course, yourself.
In the geometry of life, the axiom is “positive attitudes produce positive results.” They make success more likely, failures less harmful, pleasures more frequent, and pain more bearable. Some people tend to bring warm sunshine wherever they go; others bring cold chills. What do you bring?
To find out where you can improve, take an inventory of your predispositions, the attitude you’re most likely to start with:
- Are you generally optimistic or pessimistic?
- Do you tend to assume the best or expect the worst of people?
- Is your first instinct to be empathetic or judgmental?
- Is your first instinct to be supportive or critical?
- Do you send the message that you enjoy life or that you’re barely enduring it?
- Do you come across as the captain of your own ship or simply a passenger?
Wherever you are on the positive-attitude spectrum, think how much better things could be if you were more consistently and self-consciously optimistic, empathetic, supportive, grateful, enthusiastic, hopeful, and cheerful.
Resolve not to sabotage your ambitions, self-confidence, and ideals with self-fulfilling pessimism and cynicism. Don’t undermine your happiness or success with negativity. Stop wasting time and energy complaining, condemning, resenting, regretting, and worrying. Replace griping with gratitude. Make a daily conscious effort to approach every problem and opportunity with positive energy, enthusiasm, optimism, and even self-conscious cheerfulness.
Next, resolve to pay more attention to your moral compass and your beliefs about right and wrong. Promise yourself to be more scrupulous about being honest, keeping promises, and standing strong against temptations. Commit to doing the right thing even when it may cost more than you want to pay, and be more accountable, respectful, fair, and compassionate. Treat your character as your most important asset.
Finally, resolve to improve your relationships. Remember, people always remember how you made them feel. Help people feel better about themselves, not worse. Overcome the impulse to criticize, scold, and condemn, and instead look for every opportunity to praise, encourage, and support. Above all, be kind.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.