By: Edvard Kadič
At this time of year, proper behavior is often difficult even without a coronavirus. This year we have the opportunity to become aware – in a slightly different way – of the rules of behavior in society and the reasons why we have them at all. Therefore, in what follows, I will not focus on opening the door to the ladies, moving the chair, or helping to undress or put on the coat, but I will focus on the feelings that our behavior can trigger in other people.
We have all heard of the so-called golden rule: let us treat the people around us the way we would like them to treat us. Stopping public life has, among other things, given us time to reflect on how we really want others to treat us. For many, Christmas time is quite a stressful period, as they simply do not like to worry about choosing and looking for gifts, while listening to the same “jingle bells songs” for a whole month together. No wonder many people also run out of kindness to others. How is it for them at the present time, when we still have restrictions on movement and thus much more limited possibilities in e.g. access to gifts, restrictions on attendance, socializing practically only with the help of the Internet, etc.
Leaving aside the religious aspect of Christmas itself for a moment, it is also time to strengthen contacts and think more deeply about the importance of kindness to fellow human beings. Such an example can be older neighbors, who will be very grateful to us for helping with occasional tasks, such as clearing snow in front of the house, etc. When it comes to kindness, let’s not forget ourselves, too. The instruction we receive on the plane that if the pressure in the cabin drops, we first put the oxygen mask on ourselves and only then help others to use the mask, should it also apply to kindness. If we are not or do not know how to be kind to ourselves, how will we actually be kind to others?
What about compassion? Are compassion and kindness the same thing? Of course not. Compassion is about the ability to feel the distress of a fellow human being, and showing kindness does not necessarily lead to deeper feelings. When agreeing on how our New Year’s celebration will take place, let’s be compassionate, that is, pay attention to the feelings of others, especially if we have a larger family. Refusing an invitation to dinner because of the risk of infection should never be taken personally. Let us understand the hardship in which, for example, our daughter or sister found herself, for we know that in different circumstances she would have accepted our invitation without hesitation.
Regarding this year’s gifts, I suggest we should be as generous as possible – and no, I don’t mean the monetary value of the gifts. Namely, we can also be generous with our time, attention or passing on our knowledge. For example, the last few months have been anything but business-friendly, and we can only hope that we will not see a real wave of redundancies in the near future. Also, closed municipal boundaries and restrictions on movement in the evening and at night can be a good trigger for anxiety and other forms of mental health problems. Maybe with our knowledge, advice or just time for an open conversation, we can make it easier for someone to think about the future and relieve them of the pressure they feel.
The year 2020 was, let’s be honest, a really special year and we probably all want more normality for next year. However, let’s not be fooled. We have seen that life can change practically overnight. Let’s allow the possibility that so-called »last minute« decisions will become an integral part of our lives. If we went on a trip or vacation last year with a cold or a headache, that has changed and many people will think twice before going somewhere. So let’s be thankful for what we have. It can be very easy to be in a bad mood because of things or actions that we could not have experienced during a pandemic. Of course, it’s perfectly normal to miss socializing or »live« parties, but depending on the situation, an online dinner with a wider family cast is also much better than nothing. Let’s be thankful that we have at least the technology that connects us this year. Of course, it’s not the same as a live meeting, but we’re at least in touch anyway. We can decide on gratitude in a planned way, and it is with its help that we will more easily notice the good sides of life, even though we are in a pandemic.
Edvard Kadič is an expert in communication and personal development, a lecturer, trainer and consultant in the field of personal charisma.