Tuesday, January 6, 2009

02009 New Year's Resolution #1: A Change of Mindset

For the first in my series of 02009 New Year's Resolutions, I'm going with something not very tangible. It's about trying to be a better person in a vague sort of way. I think it's the sort of thing that most anyone could resolve to try, and might make just about anyone feel a little bit better as a result. So, here's my first New Year's Resolution for 02009:

Whenever somebody makes a request of me, particularly if it is something that will cost me nothing but perhaps a little bit of time and effort, I resolve to try to ask myself the following question: "How would I respond to this request if it were being asked by a woman who told me that her son had been killed before his time and that this was his dying wish?"

This is a thought exercise, and to my mind there's a series of questions that then follow quite directly from the initial one: "Does this change my attitude towards the request?" "Does this perspective conflict with my natural tendency?" "If so, how?" "Which response is the better response?"

Note: I am not resolving to respond positively to every request that comes my way. Ultimately, my resolution is to merely think about whether I am treating every request with the respect that it deserves. If this means occasionally inconveniencing myself a little bit more than I otherwise would be willing to do, and the result is that someone has a little bit better of a time of things, then great! The world is a better place. And if it turns out that I don't end up changing my behavior or attitude one bit as a result of this exercise, then at least I will have thought about my place in the world a bit more (perhaps with a bit more empathy or sympathy). And I can live with that.

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