Hi 2019. How the hell are you? The arrival of this new year is as good a time as any to change for the better. Let the light shine in today. Let the light shine out.
New years are overrated. At least when it comes to prompting change.*
You can change, you can choose to do better at any moment. Any day. Any year. There is never any moment quite like this present moment to change what needs to be changed. If the present moment happens to fall at the start of January, so be it.
To make positive change is a choice. Choose to let the light shine in to you, and – as best you can – to let the light shine out from you.
To let the light shine in is to bask in and draw energy from what is good.
To let the light shine out is to let this energy inform each day, each action in the most positive way that it can.
Anger fans the flames
As 2019 dawns, chaos and uncertainty are rampant. This age of anger hasn’t burnt itself out yet. Division and vitriol for days. The unprincipled appear to rule the roost.
With the world burning, does it makes sense to fight fire with fire?
Lashing out is rarely the right response. Anger fans the flames. It can endanger you, as well as the target of your anger. There is great wisdom in these words from Naval Ravikant**:
“Anger hurts YOU, first and foremost.”
Decide to be considerate
It’s never been more important to meet the world with clear, definite principles.
I love Bex Coates’ affirmation of principled decency. She contends that – given the current state of things – being nice is the new punk. Bex says:
“Engage in good faith. Don’t allow yourself to be baited. Reject the establishment vitriol. Ad-hom is so mainstream it’s boring. Decide to engage with the idea, rather than the personality. Less ‘fuck you’ and more ‘fuck that.’ Decide to be considerate, respectful, principled, kind and generous. Be everything the establishment isn’t. Polite is the new punk. Fuck the system. Be nice.”
Could there be a better and more timely principle for 2019 than to be considerate, respectful, principled, kind and generous? Bex is right to frame this as a choice.
If you keep digging
The choices you face, the principles you choose to exercise – these are nothing new.
Over the Christmas break, I read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. I was struck by how modern his voice and his view appear to be. This age of anger has happened before. Human nature doesn’t change. Mercifully, wisdom is also eternal.
For Marcus Aurelius, each person’s guiding principles should where possible be directed toward the common good, and should never waver. He writes:
“Whatever anyone does or says, I must be a good man. It is as if an emerald, or gold, or purple, were always saying ‘Whatever anyone does or says, I must be an emerald and keep my colour.'”
Each of us is capable of great things:
“Dig inside yourself. Inside there is a spring of goodness ready to gush at any moment, if you keep digging.”
Each of us will face our own challenges, our own burdens, and will be faced with people who might be our allies or our enemies. I particularly love these words from Marcus Aurelius:
“Fit yourself for the matters which have fallen to your lot, and love these people among whom destiny has cast you – but your love must be genuine.”
Decide to be considerate, respectful, principled, kind and generous.
Let the light shine out
Positive action creates energy, an energy which benefits all around it. This is beautifully expressed in some words from Calderon de la Barca, as recently shared by Bryan Wempen on Twitter:
“A good action is never lost; it is a treasure laid up and guarded for the doer’s need.”
We can all of us choose to change, choose to do better, any moment, any day. We can choose to do better now, and always.
Let the light shine in.
Let the light shine out.
* A year and a day ago, David D’Souza wrote the following (via a guest post on Kate Griffiths-Lambeth’s blog):
“There are some years that are better than others. There are some years that are definitely worse. The relatively arbitrary unit of the year gives us a chance to reflect and renew.”
** You could do significantly worse than immerse yourself in the wise words of Naval Ravikant’s epic appearance on the Tim Ferriss podcast. I made this podcast number one in my recent round-up of the best podcasts of 2018.
- My thanks to Victorio Milian for his kind permission to include the wonderful photograph which appears at the top of this post. Victorio’s picture reminds me – in the best possible way – of the sensational 360-degree cover art of the Beastie Boys’ immortal Paul’s Boutique album (which turns 30 this year).
- My thanks to Poonam Munshi for her kind permission to include her excellent 2019 doodle.
- Light shining amongst leaves photo by mjcarty.