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Post New Year's Reflection

Now that the winter holidays are over, most of us can finally take a moment to slow down.
    The arrival of cold weather affords us some quiet time, which can be used for personal reflection. For some of us, this is kicked-off by resolutions we make on New Year's Day that are meant to change us for the better. Unfortunately, such resolutions rarely last more than a week or two.
    Prior to the New Year, Christmas carols and holiday giving remind us of the virtues of generosity and good will toward others. We tend to smile more. Pleasant greetings and thoughtful gestures become more spontaneous. We find ourselves focusing on friends and family with feelings of nostalgia. On television, the past comes to life with morality tales, renditions first penned by Charles Dickens. All in all, warm feelings defy the growing chill outdoors.
    Over the years, however, some of our responses tend to become routine, especially when caught up in the bustle of commercialized distractions.
    With that in mind, I want to remind people of the importance of personal reflection. With every passing year, more and more hand-held technology demands more and more of our attention. Ads and commercials dominate the holidays to the point of oppression. Many of us get trapped in the flow, unmindful of the consequences.
    The truth is, our time for reflection is being whittled away like never before — and we have no idea how that affects our well-being. After all, the awareness of our own thoughts and feelings and motivations, which we refer to as personal reflection, is what makes us human. If we sacrifice a significant amount of that, what do we become?
    A good, belated New Year's resolution might be to take time to escape media technology on a regular basis — quiet moments to just sit and think, or experience the simplicity of nature, or go to a restaurant with friends or family while leaving the cell phone in the car. Play a game that is not computer related. When you are with people, appreciate them with your undivided attention.
You might also want to take a moment to meditate on the meaning of holidays, apart from their commercialized exploitations. Special days on the calendar were meant to have more meaning than just a day off from work, or blow-out sales. Presidents Day and Martin Luther King Day, for two examples, were meant to remind us of extraordinary individuals whose stories can inspire the best in us all. Memorial Day and Veterans Day remind us of those who served our country, both dead and alive. The Fourth of July commemorates the formation of a government based on extraordinary ideals that we would do well to recognize before lighting the grill. There are cultural meanings attached to all our holidays, worthy of reflection.
Progress is a good thing. Never doubt that. If we do not move forward, we fall behind. In the midst of progress, however, it is important to preserve what is meaningful and healthy to us all.


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