This holiday, let’s rest and renew together

Let’s make this New Year a period of rest and renewal. 

I am not necessarily a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions (though that may be because I am bad at keeping them rather than having any theoretical objection) but I do recognize that this period can be one of personal growth and learning.

At no other time do we witness a collective pause in the humdrum nature of daily living. So rarely do we get the time to reflect, in a collective way, on our values, needs and desires. 

And when we do that we might find that actually the way we live the rest of the year isn’t quite in sync with our values or working to realize those desires. 

This period is a time in which many of us “come home” to our families. 

But it could also be one in which we come home to our true selves. 

We can find joy and meaning through connection with others

We see, everywhere, people celebrating ideas of togetherness, the spirit of sharing, and the joy of connection. Those of us familiar with Dickens or (if you’re like me) the Muppets will know that this is meant to be a time of fellowship and generosity. 

How at odds that can seem with daily life. 

We live in societies which often encourage us to compete and conflict. We’re motivated to out-do, out-argue, out-run, and out-think. 

The result, as I see it, is simply more suffering. Poverty, inequality, homelessness, stress, anxiety, and a toxic blend of hate and division.

In the New Year we’ll be officially launching the Global Compassion Coalition and when we do it will be with the goal of bringing us all home. 

Decades of scientific research has shown that we are, at heart, wired for compassion. 

It’s impossible to imagine it being any other way: how else could we have survived and thrived as a species for so long without sharing knowledge, helping those in need, and pooling resources for the greater good? It’s these values and incentives – to care, cooperate, and share – that I want us to put at the heart of human society.

So in the coming weeks I invite you to do one thing: just reflect on the values this time is meant to express and think for a moment about what it’d be like if they lasted all year round, not just in this singular moment.

And if, when you look at the state of the world today, you find a bit of heartache or sadness or even fear for the future of our species (as I do sometimes), see if you can remind yourself that you feel this pain because of your deeply held value of compassion or fairness or justice and let it strengthen your resolve to do what you can to manifest that value in your daily activities or your plan for the year ahead. If it hurts, it matters. How you respond matters too.

And most importantly, take the time to rest, revive, and renew. 

As well as being a momentary pause, this can also be a very stressful time for many – combining present-buying, end of year goals, and family politics. Our Founder Rick Hanson will be hosting a free online session on 29th December to help anyone who is feeling heightened stress and anxiety to recognize the sources of that pain and work to relieve it. He’ll also be sharing some news about the work of the GCC and how, together, we can work to not only alleviate our own suffering but the suffering in the world around us. I do hope you can join.

Go well. 

Steve Hickman is Chief Operating Officer of the Global Compassion Coalition. 

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