New Year’s Reflections

Over the years, I’ve accumulate an informal list of philosophies and attitudes from various sources and experiences that I try to convince myself to act according to every day despite my overwhelming hypocrisy in action. It’s become a tradition to review the list to add and reflect on it.

  1. Complain as little as possible and be as sincerely thankful as you possibly can for everything – especially for food and health. When you really must complain, let it be in the pursuit of improving wrongs or for doing good and not out of personal dissatisfaction. Challenge yourself in every moment to find the near infinite things you take for granted and/or never were thankful for. Think often about the great majority of people who have nearly none of the luxuries you do, and if you must complain, imagine you are complaining to them. Expect to struggle throughout your life and be thankful for the strength to do so.
  2. Convince yourself without doubt or insincerity that you are most probably not very clear about the reality of things. Or if you are positive that you aren’t even just a little mistaken yet, you will be some day. Every person is naturally inclined to knowing who they think they are and not who they really are. The only hope you have to escape this lens of the world is to live your life periodically questioning whether you are being honest, reasonable and enlightened with yourself. If you find yourself a bit wrong, but mostly good – you are delusional. If you find yourself a little good, but mostly a lot of personal flaws needing a lifetime of determined personal improvement, then stick to it. Even if you are a good person, life is an uphill journey and complacency will only conceal your plummet as you fall
  3. Stand silently and in stillness with as much genuine humility as you can convince yourself to before the great mountain of unknown things that sustain your daily life. Remind yourself as often as possible that you are limited in what you can see, hear, perceive and understand and to not take your opinions as facts. Nevertheless, seek to learn and understand as much as possible without loosing perspective of how little it is.
  4. Struggle to understand all things within the concrete and ultimate reality that God is good and that things are often not as we see or understand them. Double check and correct yourself whenever you blame God or others instead of yourself.
  5. Take every chance you can to do your best. Take the time to do things right whenever you can. Constantly seek to improve yourself, especially as you get older.
  6. Recognize your faults and personal flaws as much as possible – and with as little shame and/or guilt as possible. This is a nearly bottomless pit of opportunity that will never leave you without anything to do. If you feel like you’ve run out of opportunities for self improvement, give yourself a square self examination.
  7. Empathize with people as much as possible. Especially people you dislike the most. Resist the urge to hate people and if at all possible, find some way to be kind to them just like everyone else without expecting anything in return. Remember for every person whom you criticize, there is likely someone (yourself included) who you love who is or does the same way.
  8. Expect to fail your entire life and prepare yourself to try again and again without ceasing. Give little thought to failure, but instead focus on recovery and reflection.
  9. Don’t eat or drink more than what you really need to. Remember the hungry as often as you can. Avoid any excess things.
  10. Know what very few things are truly urgent and be at peace with how the rest turns out. Put first things first. Struggle to keep your real priorities in order. Do not rush. Periodically evaluate yourself and make sure your expectations are reasonably set. Expect only to struggle. Success may or may not come.
  11. Do not expect perfection, resolve, healing, learning, clarity, change, or peace to come quickly or in some ways if ever at all. But do not let this discourage you from working hard towards them.
  12. Be as honest and revealing with yourself as possible. Remember that many things inside of you are hidden to yourself and will not reveal themselves without serious effort. Self discovery is always a profitable endeavor.
  13. Accept people not only for who they, but as they are. If God willed us into our own agency and has accepted us despite our rebellion, then what right do we have to reject one another?
  14. Take time to sit down with yourself and formally put into writing your beliefs, priorities, goals, etc. Review, reflect and add to it periodically.

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