Yes, it’s that time of year when ‘new year, new you’ trends everywhere! To be fair, I actually enjoy the resolutions process as it gives me a chance to look back and forward. I think both perspectives are necessary to be happy in the present. However, that’s not the purpose for this particular post.
In a world of selfies, turn your attention to others.
This is something I think writers are good at doing. We people-watch for character inspiration – this includes mannerisms, voice, motivation, relationships, and more. It’s really a fascinating process I enjoy! It’s also one that has taught me a lot.
To write a character well, you need to be walking in their shoes. You need to understand their past and future dreams to write them in the present. A bit of the writer goes into each character and, in return, a bit of each character stays with us. This takes you out of your world and puts you in theirs.
Readers get a taste of this too, and studies have shown readers to be more empathetic. No, I don’t have those links so you’ll just have to trust me on that one! 🙂
In the ‘real world’ though, it seems almost every generation is considered the ‘me generation’ until they grow up and pass the judgment onto the next one. However, with social media now we do all share more of our lives with strangers. Whether Instagram, Tumblr, or wherever, we check-in at events, post pictures of our workouts and food, and generally just overshare with too many details. We also whine about the lack of concern by others after we share.
How many posts do you see with variations of these words:
- I bet no one will share/ comment;
- I’m leaving this group as my posts don’t get a lot of responses;
- Am I doing this wrong? Can anyone see my posts?
We want all the attention focused on us.
I’m not saying that’s bad, but it can get out of control. There are also multiple studies show a person’s happiness increases if they step away from social medial (nope, no links for this one either – you’ll just have to research a bit). Even IG has decided we are too fixated on the number of likes others’ pictures receive.
My New Year’s resolution isn’t a ‘new me’, but a ‘new others’.
I want to shine a light on my friends, my family, and my fellow writers. As part of this, I’ve come up with a few things I’m going to try throughout the year:
- I’m going to send a random card to my older relatives (no texts or PM, an actual card through the mail);
- I’m going to share/ RT more posts from my friends; and
- I’m going to listen when I ask people ‘how are you’.
These aren’t big, earth-shattering changes. They’re actually very small things. However, they take the focus off of me and put it on those I care about instead.
As an author, I’m taking it a step further. I do have guest posts from fellow authors, but I’m also going to start including their books in my newsletter. My January newsletter will be a full showcase of my author friends’ works. It may not gain them a single sale…or it might. Regardless, it’s building bridges between me and others.
The writing community has a frequently used sentiment (and a good one) – other writers are not my competition.
I’d like to suggest this is another lesson from writing that works in the real world. We aren’t competing with our neighbors, celebrities, siblings, or enemies. We all have a path, and we are the best people to walk it. It’s when we compare ourselves to others that we lose sight and stumble.
It’s almost an oxymoron, isn’t it?
My first instructions were to pay attention to others ahead of ourselves. Now, I’m advising that focusing on others can make us stumble.
If you’ve read other blogs here, you know I refer to both writing and martial arts lessons. We’ve talked a bit about the writing so now it’s time to bring in the martial arts…intention.
We have an aggressive take-down in aikido called irimi. It means to enter in. We also have kokyuho which is a breath throw. The movements can look quite similar, but it is often the intention that distinguishes them. We use the example of a knife-wielder burglar vs a drunk friend. To save your life, you may need to enter and take an attacker down. When it’s my drunk friend getting rowdy, I like having the option to place them gently on the ground without hurting anyone.
When you put the focus on others, do so to help, to support, to love. Do not shine a light on their mistakes, their problems, their stumbles. Do not compete with them.
Compete with yourself – are you a better person today than yesterday? This resolution/ idea would require more than just this short post.
For now, let’s see if we can try the ‘new year, new others’ mentality instead of ‘new year, new you’ one. Have the intention of helping others and then look back and see if it changed you.
It’s your turn! Do you have a new year’s resolution? Do you have any ideas to help us all focus on others? Please don’t be shy – we are all in this together!
Happy New Year, friends! I hope you make it a great one for yourself and your loved ones!