03/28/2008 02:48 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Respect: A New Year's Resolution

With the New Year approaching fast, this is a time of new beginnings, of resolutions, of fresh starts. Often we make lists of things we will do in the New Year, like lose weight, work out, volunteer, read more, etc. This year, what about committing to follow, on a day-to-day basis, the simple moral code of Respect? Respect according to Webster's means: 1. An act of giving particular attention; 2. A high or special regard. Taken together, respect of self, others, and the planet means to attend to them with special regard. If respect is our guiding principle in 2008, notice what that would mean to you.

Respect Yourself - attention and high regard for you means caring for what food and substances you put in your body, taking care of it through daily exercise (but not too much), reducing stress (simplifying your life), giving your body and mind time to recover or rest from the doing cycle of life by getting sleeping well, meditating, and relaxing.

Respect for Others - attention and high regard for others means attending to how you treat others. It means not harboring anger, greed, or hatred toward someone else, or if you do, to not act upon it. It means watching your interactions with family, friends, and co-workers and choosing to foster their happiness and reduce their suffering in whatever ways you can. It means no gossiping maliciously about others. It means telling the truth, being honest with yourself first (e.g. noting if your own emotions and taking care to choose actions to help, not harm). It means reaching out and helping strangers in need, that can be merely a greeting or smile.

Respect for the Planet - attention and high regard for the planet and its inhabitants means reducing your consumption and replenishing diminishing resources anyway you can (and recognizing that you aren't perfect). It means taking time to connect to the planet, such as walking barefoot on the earth, hiking in nature, gardening, or observing its beauty. It means finding ways to reduce harmful behaviors, like eating less meat, wearing less animal-produced clothing, buying local, killing less (even insects).

Since we are human, we can abide by respect but recognize that living means a lifetime of errors as well and renewals through correcting direction, adopting a more respectful stance. This New Year's, make a simple resolution of Respect and see where it takes you. The errors will arise (probably on 1/1/08) but a guiding force of Respect will likely right them more quickly and reduce their frequency of occurrence.