What do you want your legacy to be? Each individual has the power to contribute to the collective well-being.
I’ve been spending some time feeling fortunate.
There are the obvious reasons. A great family, good health, caring friends and interesting work. I wish this good fortune for all.
Yet life presents many challenges, and I am grateful for those as well.
The passing of loved ones — but it’s been a gift to have had them in my life. The effects of aging — but it comes with ever increasing richness of life experience.
This perspective is a choice and sometimes takes an act of will. There are many discouraging things going on — assaults on our environment and increasingly overt expressions of racism come to mind.
However, succumbing to pessimism and resignation doesn’t help anyone, even if it’s sometimes hard to resist.
Where are you on the gratitude scale?
If the challenges are getting you down, and the stress of the holidays got the better of you, look for the little wins.
Look out your window and notice something beautiful. Find a small thing that makes you laugh. Or connect with someone who makes you feel good.
Then consciously acknowledge gratitude that these things exist in your life.
Make a practice of this. Imagine the refreshment to your brain and spirit from absorbing these positive moments. Even if it’s not difficult for you, you’ll benefit.
We are all also graced by the many things that others have done for us. This can be people we know — teachers, leaders and mentors.
It can be broader forces — inventors, responsible government officials and activists. It can be the contributions of our infrastructure systems — roads, hospitals and schools. The point is that none of us make it on our own. Our interdependence is a gift and a responsibility.
To carry forward your responsibility, extend your gratitude practice to others. Simple kindness and appreciation can make an immense difference for someone who is having a rough day.
Then think bigger. What do you want your legacy to be? Each individual has the power to contribute to the collective well-being. And, while the actions you are already taking may well do so, you can have more impact if you’re intentional about it.
Do you need some help making this concrete? Think about what you like to do and use these interests and gifts with others.
Take on commitments that you have the ability to honor, and let your engagement build as you’re able.
For example, if you like being with kids, sign up for a manageable volunteer role at a school, church or community center to start. There are countless ways to contribute once you start to think about it, from the very personal to the broad policy levels.
Take this opportunity to step up your commitment to the next level.
Setting a priority of making a difference will have other benefits in your day-to-day life.
You’ll find yourself in community with like-minded people, helping reduce the isolation that many people are experiencing.
You’ll also get an energy buzz that comes from serving others.
Commit to finding the joy in your everyday life and passing this on to others for the new year.