The end-of-year holidays call people out of their usual routines. For most of us, it’s an opportunity for gratitude and reflection. We spend time with family and friends. We enjoy moments of celebration and happiness. Often, a feeling of how good life can be wells up inside us, and we make resolutions about how to sustain that feeling in the New Year.
This has been especially true for us. In 2016, after eight years of writing and rewriting, we were able to publish Cooperative Wisdom: Bringing People Together When Things Fall Apart. It was deeply satisfying simply to have the book in print, but we’ve also been grateful for the response from readers and reviewers.
In the week before Christmas, Cooperative Wisdom won the Pinnacle Award as the Best Self Help Book of 2016. In the year that has just begun, we know the book is on Want-to-Read lists, and we look forward to expanding the community of people who want to read, think and act in ways that make cooperation more likely.
The New Year also makes us aware of places where our efforts fell short in the past. Some of us feel pain over family members who couldn’t join us during the holidays, old friends now estranged or long-term relations broken by death. We may also lament cross words we spoke in haste or extra kindnesses we omitted. We may spend part of this year addressing the unhappy consequences that arise from last year’s errors and omissions.
The blessing of a new year is that it is a new beginning, an opportunity to take the insights from previous years and turn them into aspirations and actions. We review the past in the hope of discerning the range of circumstances in which, with too much haste and too little attention, we set ourselves on unhappy paths. We begin to grasp the patterns of events that follow from our omissions.
And then we resolve that the future will be different. Even if we remember former resolutions that we made and failed to keep, we cross the threshold of the new year determined to do better. How can this year be different? How can we develop new habits that will protect and nurture the cooperative relationships that are the source of all the good things in our lives?
As the authors of Cooperative Wisdom, we feel fortunate because the five virtues we write about in the book translate readily into resolutions that will guide us in the year ahead. And so we pledge anew to practice:
- Proactive compassion so we can anticipate and respond to vulnerability
- Deep discernment so we can unearth bedrock values
- Intentional imagination so we can expand what’s possible
- Inclusive integrity so we rework cooperation to allow everyone to thrive
- Creative courage so we embrace the risks of engagement.
These resolutions may not be as specific as “lose ten pounds” or “read more with the kids.” They do, however, have the potential to make cooperation more sustainable in almost any social setting from families and schools to workplaces and volunteer organizations, statehouses and government agencies. As our readers know, Cooperative Wisdom includes dozens of cases and examples as well as fifteen practices that help people understand and master the social virtues.
We plan to explore those practices in more depth in the coming months. If you haven’t read the book, we hope you’ll buy a copy from your local bookstore or an online retailer. And we hope you’ll follow us on this blog as well as Facebook and Twitter. We’d also like to hear your stories about how Cooperative Wisdom is at work in your life. Our wishes for a New Year that is happy, peaceful and prosperous will be more meaningful if we work together to realize them.