The challenge of 2016

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope and pray that you have a year of inner peace and joy. Whatever is happening around you, may it not disturb or upset your inner peace. 2016 is an election year. May it not upset you. The Wonder-Counselor of all our troubles will not be found in whom we elect as president of the United States. It is a fantasy we would like to believe but it will not happen and will never happen. Election years appear to be a profound media explosion of illusion and disillusion.

Each year we remember those famous people who have died during the past year. There is an old Latin proverb that says "Sic transit gloria mundi" which means "thus passes the glory of the world." We all must make that final passage to the next life where we cannot take anything with us except the love we have shown others in this life.

My wife and I spent part of New Year's Day with a group of longtime friends. It was a delightful brunch with old friends. As we sat and reminisced and shared our deepest wishes for each other in this New Year, I realized that this is where change begins: in people sharing and sincerely wishing good things for each other. This aging group has been together at gatherings for the past 44 years. Such gentle and kind feelings were expressed for each other at this glorious gathering. Though we may see things differently politically and religiously, there is such a great respect for each other in this wonderful gathering. We have all known each other for a long time. We know each other's limitations and assets. Because we have known each other for such a long time we do not spend energy in trying to change each other. There is a respectful acceptance of each other's positive virtues and an equal acceptance of each other's limitations. This sacred gathering is a refreshing way to start the New Year.

2016 will be a good year for each of us. But it doesn't depend upon what is happening outside of us. It doesn't depend on politics or what group we belong to. It doesn't depend upon what religion we practice or do not practice. It doesn't depend upon your belief in God or your absence of belief in a God. But inner peace in 2016 does depend upon how well we love one another. It depends upon how well we show respect and compassion for everyone. Peace and joy depend upon having positive relationships with other people. When we hang on to resentments toward others and stay angry at others we create more tension in the world. I heard a most powerful statement the other day: "When I hang on to resentments and judgments toward others it is as if I am drinking poison as I condemn them." It helps absolutely no one and destroys myself.

In this New Year there is really only one roadmap to find happiness: gratitude for everything and a decision to love and look for the good in everyone. When we do this we begin to open ourselves up to positive relationships. We also open ourselves up to the possibility of finding a God in our life that brings inner peace and security without a need to convert anyone except ourselves into a more loving and compassionate way of living.

In 2016 if we all made a decision to bring love and compassion to those around us we would send out an energy into the world that would have a powerful positive effect. Isn't it interesting that in all the candidates running for president no one talks about bringing love and compassion to the world? It is more like bringing a sense of paranoia and fear to the world. When is the last time you have heard someone in politics and someone famous in the media talk about the importance of forgiveness, love and service to others. The present Pope Francis seems to do a good job at this. There are leaders in different religions and movements that also do this. But so often we hear about condemnations, evil and punishments for not believing or accepting things the "right way."

Let your hearts be filled with love and compassion during 2016. Spend time in gratitude. Spend time in quiet reflection and meditation. Spend time in affirming and loving others. Know that you and I are in the wrong place when we are angry, critical and condemning. When we demean someone else we really are making ourselves miserable, bitter and unhappy. Judgments, criticisms and resentments make our hearts small and closed to love. Compassion and gratitude makes our hearts wide open and receptive to so many good experience and positive attitudes. Love is always present in the now. Goodness is always present in the NOW. Let 2016 be the year of NOW where love, kindness and gratitude reign supreme. Then nothing or no one will disturb your inner peace and tranquility and most people who experience you will want what you have. What you have is amazing, beautiful and priceless. It is LOVE which makes the world keep going in a positive direction. Let this be your mission NOW.

Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@yahoo.com and his website is fredthecounselor.com.

Published: Tue, Jan 05, 2016