So as the New Year approaches many of us will be sitting down and compiling our list of resolutions, dreams and aspirations which we will probably stop aspiring to by February. The New Year is a time for self reflection and deep contemplation about our future goals. According to various polls the most popular resolutions revolve around self improvement; eating well, exercise better, expand our intellectual horizons and embark on new adventures. These are often the resolutions we all make but it's surprising how superficial our aspirations are; when miss world candidates can aspire for world peace why don't we ever think beyond our waistline when it comes to our attainable future goals?
I am not here to judge and point fingers, I am just as guilty of this when it comes to my personal aspirations in life but it's quite obvious that these superficial and at times self indulgent goals are both useless and at times unattainable. 2014 has been a tumultuous year for humanity, from the rise of terrorism, the spread of ebola, violence and civil war in various countries across the globe as well as religious and social injustices which we all seem to have accepted as the norms of society. Through the media we have become more self aware of what is happening in the world but when we think of our resolutions for a better future we never stretch beyond getting fit and cutting back on gluttony.
Social media is partly to blame; we are constantly bombarded with images of airbrushed celebrities being validated for their luxury lifestyles and their quick fixes which has made us so self conscious that many of us search for the same level of gratification on the internet. The youth of today are perhaps the biggest culprits when it comes to narcissistic validation, but unfortunately some have become victims of vicious online bullying which has led many young children to committing suicide just to escape the torment. We have become so conscious of the individual that we are no longer concerned or rooted in a 'settled community.' We are now more connected than ever, but also less interested in other people, unless they are talking about us. It's as if being closer to others has perhaps made us more antisocial towards each other.
I wouldn't say that it's a lack of education that is the cause of this superficiality, on the other side of the social media we are constantly exposed to images of countries ravaged by war, children victims of famine and destitution we receive emails and newsletters about NGO's and their efforts to provide fresh water, free education and medical care even diary accounts from victims of war and natural disasters. We can't blame schooling and education, there are several campaigns running that encourage students to invest their free time in charity work and fund raisers.
But unfortunately society has become narcissistic but we need to realise (as Disney as this sounds) that personal happiness can come through the joy and happiness of others. As a resolution perhaps we should consider investing more in our relationships with others. By shifting the focus of our lives subtly towards our individual relationships, we could encourage and build stronger communities and simultaneously secure greater personal happiness. I am not saying you have to single handily find the cure for hunger and global poverty, but just set aside a selfless resolution that can make just your world a little better. Even just volunteering at a local community centre, soup kitchen or just keeping a penny jar for charity at home. These goals are not only realistic to attain but also will give us greater validation than any great selfie could give.
When each individual begins to work on their relationships on the ground level, this could create a momentum that could push social and political change which could in turn better our global society as a whole. We know the world is capable of this because we have witnessed what social movements can do in bringing about great global change. We need to promote and validate acts of kindness and charity rather than narcissism. Stop focusing on what we don't have and think about what we can give.
Religions throughout the world use the New Year as a time to repent for their sins and seek a more enlightened path, perhaps the world can take a step back from vanity and seek a more charitable and selfless path, maybe if we each focused on the importance of others then perhaps 2015 could be a year of positive social change not just for us but for generations to come. I know this sounds idealistic and perhaps slightly far fetched but every great change can start from a single act of kindness.