As a new year dawns, I diffidently offer these suggestions. You will be a successful person in 2012 if you:
1. Will find the resources – regardless of your age and position – to keep mind alive, vital, active and curious, eager to pursue worthy and exciting goals.
2. Will be able to get along in mutual understanding and regard with your spouse and your children. A child psychologist wrote, “It probably takes more endurance, more patience, more intelligence, more healthy emotion to raise a decent, happy human being than to be an atomic scientist, a statesman or a psychiatrist.”
3. Will find a measure of meaning in your work and the satisfactions that come from the knowledge that you are earning your bread honestly and without deceit. Our society is built on a division of labour; every kind of work is important to the whole. The teacher, the banker, the inventor, the engineer, the designer, the weaver, the electrician – each is vital to the entire process, and if one fails in their task, then all of us are the poorer.
4. Can be guided by our own standards and values, rather than those of our neighbours. Longfellow reminded us, “Not in the clamour of the crowded street/Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng/But in ourselves are triumph and defeat.”
5. Have won a few good friends whom you admire and who add a measure of zest and comradeship to your life and activities. It is essential to pick your friends, but not to pieces.
6. Can accept the good and bad in life with equanimity; not made arrogant by the former or embittered by the latter.
7. Don’t overestimate your importance in the scheme of things. How quickly “indispensable” persons are forgotten.
8. Can forget yourself long enough and your problems to reach out in genuine concern and consideration for others. Hell is apartness; Heaven is togetherness. The more we forget ourselves in loving concern for others, the better off we are – the stronger, the more truly contented.
9. Can be a builder, rather than a destroyer. Everything that is the product of a creative mind and skilled labour is at the mercy and whim of destructive forces. Microbes, fire, earthquake, cyclone, stupidity, hatred and violence all take their toll. And yet, in the perspective of time, the creative forces win out. Not because they work faster – creation is slow, destruction is fast – but because construction has a purpose while destruction has none. Creation involves foresight, thoughtfulness, method, co-operation. Creation is going someplace. Destruction is meaningless, purposeless, random. It goes nowhere.
10. Can feel that you are reaching for your full potential and experiencing new ripening of mind and spirit. What we term maturity cannot be hurried, but must be tasted, savoured and digested.
In the coming year each of us will be given a fresh supply of time. This is the only time we will have. Once gone it is irretrievably lost. Although time flies, we can try to serve as a navigator through our years. More important than counting time is making time count.