01/16/2015 05:02 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Climbing the Steps (of Acceptance) in 2015


My goals for the new year can be summarized in one word: acceptance. These are some areas where I'd like to put it into practice.

1. To accept that (like everyone else) I have "crazy" thoughts at times that require sorting out.

I define them as "crazy" because they show a disconnection from logic, a deviation from rational and practical thinking. Instead of following a natural sequence as night follows day, the mind takes a leap as if the stairway from the first to the third floor of the edifice is not yet complete.

Some of these leaps (of thought) lead to a dead end or even disaster, while others may open a door to discovery and invention.

The lawn mower story is a classic example of a less than felicitous outcome of a mental leap. In this vignette, a man wants to borrow his neighbor's lawn mower, but by the time he arrives at the neighbor's door, he has convinced himself that the neighbor will not lend it to him. As a result of his internal dialogue, instead of asking, the man punches his neighbor in the nose.

The point is that we all "make up" stories in our own minds. The goal is to become aware of and take responsibility for these fabrications.

A story about Howard Hughes is a real-life example of a leap of imagination. Hughes designed and built a new aircraft, risking his life to test it. Although the plane crashed and almost killed him, he continued to perfect his invention; that is, he completed the missing steps and succeeded in inventing retractable landing gear and setting world air-speed records in the mid- to late 1930s. (He is also remembered for one big flop--the H-4 Hercules.)

2. I accept that aging is a natural process to acknowledge and also, paradoxically, to resist. We do well to struggle against the inevitable loss by initiating new projects to keep our bodies, minds and souls in motion; eating a healthy diet; and exercising our (at times) reluctant limbs.

3. The mind naturally has the capacity to think in antithetical ways -- to be negative and positive, constructive and destructive. I accept that I will try to do my best to capitalize on the constructive and creative aspects, as well as to confront the negative, derogatory and destructive. (Dialogue is constructive; physical violence is destructive.)

4. Time hasn't granted me the quality of patience, but I've gained the awareness that impatience comprises a "growing edge," an area that requires attention with an eye toward improvement. I attempt to select the lines on which I must wait and attempt to be patient. For instance, I may have to wait for the bus, but I don't have to wait on a long line to buy a pastry at the bakery.

5. I accept my short -- and long-term goal: to help make the world a better place both in the moment (like helping a disabled person across the street or up the stairs) and in the long run (by taking responsibility for the impact of my words and actions on other people (in contrast to the "lawn mower man").

I offer these thoughts with love, hope and prayers for peace for the new year and welcome my readers' thoughts, and/or New Year's resolutions.