Tuesday, 1 January 2013

A hopefully happy new year.

Depending on when you're reading this it's likely to be 2013 where you are, in which case allow me to wish you a new year that's hopefully happy.

Before someone reminded me, I'd all but forgotten the old New Year's tradition of 'first footing' that our family used to mark when I was young. Harking from Scotland and the North of England, it was said that the first person to cross a home's threshold after midnight on New Year's Eve should bring in a piece of coal, symbolising the hope that the home would be full of warmth in the year ahead.

Not many homes are heated with coal these days, but I still like the thought of first-footing, particularly the idea that the person doing it (who was ideally supposed to be a tall, dark-haired male) was doing their small bit to help others, and if there was one goal that I'd like to suggest we make our own in 2013, it is that we should all remember how good it can feel to do things for other people.

While I'm not suggesting that we should behave altruistically only because of the 'helper's high' buzz it gives us, it's no bad thing to remember that helping someone is very often a win-win deal, leaving both helper and helped feeling better than they did before.

Of course some people may be reluctant to accept an offer of help, even though they may really need it. I think this is when it can pay to behave a little more assertively than you might normally do. Ask 'Would you like some help?' and you could get little more than a polite 'No thanks'. But subtly change this to a 'Please let me help you carry those bags', and you're more likely to have the offer accepted. Perhaps it's a good idea to suggest rather than ask, and to define your contribution rather than leaving it open-ended?

Life could be a lot richer if we all went just a little out of our way to help one another in 2013, and perhaps this is one new year's resolution to which we might realistically stick?