Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Happy New Year - The Resolution Matrix

The Resolution Matrix

How to make great New Year Resolutions.

Millions of us around the world, will be partying and thinking about the year ahead as midnight approaches.   New Year is an opportunity to rethink as well as celebrate and no doubt we’ll be translating dreams into a few resolutions.

Image result for new year party

Every year I ask: will I keep them? Do I really want things to get better?  

This year I want to boldly go where I have failed before, by making resolutions that lead to a better life.  I've been saddened about what happens in our world (see my last post)   So, I’ve been thinking hard about what the best, most useful, resolutions for 2016 might look like.   I have, today, designed my Resolution Matrix and I’m sharing it (drum roll) Might it work for you too?

My hypotheses behind the Resolution Matrix are:  The least good and a deluge of harm will follow from those who only make resolutions for self-fulfilment, personal benefit.  Localised good may well be realised by those who only go for the best for their chosen few (family, friends, community, race, religion or nation etc).  Some good will be gained by those who seek to improve the lot of mankind in general.  But a better world will only ever be achieved if enough of us resolve to make a positive difference to the earth, our planet.  

I have a chant that simplifies this four level progression from pure selfishness through altruism and wisdom, 

“For me – for us - for everyone – for everything!” 
(for the origin of this see "The Tower")

Of course we all need to look after ourselves but if we stop at egotism it can render us selfish and blind us to the needs of others.  So too can a resolute focus on our chosen few – family, nation, religion and belief set.  We all want the best for our own and yet this too will become self-defeating if unknown or unfamiliar others lose out or are harmed.  If enough resolve to better the lot of mankind in general, there is some hope.  But unless a critical mass made up of you/me/humanity, take meaningful actions to protect, improve and sustain the planet there will be nothing for mankind, our chosen few, or each of us as individuals. It really is that simple. Isn’t it?

Using the Matrix.

You can either use the matrix to plot your resolutions using the boxes, or make your resolutions and check them out against the matrix.


If your resolutions only fit the red and amber boxes they will, by definition, only benefit yourself, or your chosen few.  Whilst there are times when all of us have little choice but to look after ourselves and those we feel closest to, two things follow.  First, it is easier if others help us when we are vulnerable, suffering, or ill, and second, we should resolve to help other when we are in a position to do so.  But communities, nations and humanity are heading for trouble if those who can help others do nothing.  Bluntly, if the majority of resolutions at New Year are in the lower boxes there will be more selfish and ethnocentric acts in the year ahead.  

If, however, a majority of our resolutions match the green and greener boxes, i.e. they include not only hopes, aspirations but actions and plans for everyone and everything, there is a real chance that humanity at large will act in sustainable ways, not just for ourselves and our own, but also for everyone else and everything.

Of course we must survive and thrive as independent individuals and communities but the higher order resolutions have to be about caring for others, the flora, fauna, environment and infrastructure of our planet. It's about recognising our interdependence – I like to think of this as wisdom – acting for the common good.

So there you are: a simple hypothesis a Resolution Matrix and, most importantly, a hope that more of us are able to lift our eyes beyond ourselves and our own.

A Happy New Year and all together now,

“For me, for us, for everyone and yes, for everything!”

I'm still collecting those sayings, principles and "common goods" I asked for in my last post... best sent to 

Sunday, 27 December 2015

A Christmas and New Year request...

Stick with it, there's a question for you - I need your help...

I've become increasingly wearied and saddened at the news media. Especially hearing about more zealots, both religious and non-religious, who claim to "have the only answer" and who go on to patronise, assail, criticise, attack and even try to kill those with different beliefs.... To combat my sense of hopelessness about all this first I'm saying Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone with a good, open (non bigoted) heart.

Secondly, I'm making a resolution earlier than usual and wondering if anyone will help me fulfil it?

I'll tell you my personal belief at the end of this post but it's actually unimportant because I don't believe, for one minute, that any one religion, or no religious belief, or political movement captures the whole truth. I'm beginning to realise that it's the proselytising of any one code, belief, religion or political doctrine as "the only way" that is one of the greatest global problems...
I have a deep sense that when we clutch our one truth closest we are blinding ourselves to greater truths...

So what?

So, I'll be thinking over Christmas of all the men and women, of religion, and of no religion, who gave and give their lives to making a positive difference.  More importantly, I'll be wondering about all the good folk, who don't celebrate Christmas. I'll ask myself who they remember as role models, idols and people to look up to and how and when they do it?  I'll be wondering my what their ethics and moral purposes are.

This leads to my resolution.

In 2016 I'll be looking at the SHAP calendar to remind myself and find out about the great principles and beliefs that unify all human belief systems, religions and and political movements.
I know that's a huge task. To make it simpler I want to discover what unifies us (not what makes us different). What do most thinking people believe is, "good" and "makes the world a better place"? In other words I want to discover our "common goods".

My question for you...

I'm starting my quest by asking you, "What would your top belief, principle or ethic be? What quotation, mantra or maxim sums up your meaning of life?" I'll be making a list and see where that leads...

Finally, what I believe. 

Well, I've been Christian, atheist, agnostic, flirted with Hunduism and Buddhism and other religions and am back to calling myself Christian again. We went to Church this Christmas, it was wonderful, but I won't ever claim that mine is the only worthwhile belief and that, somehow, others have got it wrong.

I just have a faith, that there is a wealth of great goodness out there and I'm resolving to find and celebrate the best of it. I'm just asking - What do most good folks agree?  What are our common goods?


I really ought to wish everyone well, not just good, open hearted (non bigoted) people. That's tough but here goes,

 "Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year!"

The SHAP Calendar

The Shap e-Calendar of Religious Festivals is an invaluable resource for the teaching profession, students, businesses, chaplaincies, those in health care and public services, to name but a few. It is recognised as the most accurate and…