Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Let Your Inner Strength Shine Every Day in 2013

MY DEAR READERS: I wish you a healthy, safe and abundant 2013!

I learned years ago that with every breath we take, we have the opportunity to refresh our commitment to live with purpose and clarity. As I think about all of the events -- both uplifting and horrifying -- that occurred in 2012, I become even more steadfast in my resolve to make this year count.

You see, I am of the mind that the big, disastrous things that happen, that seem so far away from our individual worlds, are actually much closer than we think. Although I'm not suggesting that a massacre like the one in Newtown, Conn., will happen in your or my neighborhood tomorrow, the reality is that it might.

We live in a world where extremes of negativity fester -- extreme sadness, solitude, fear, pain, frustration, anger, mischief, even deceit. Whether or not we want to believe it, these extremes can exist in our individual lives as well. We often treat the people who are closest to us in either a conciliatory or antagonistic way. What makes us choose one or another? Where is the authenticity in our choice?

Usually, the quality of our choice depends upon how well we are taking care of ourselves. When we are living at our wit's end, when we are broken (financially or spiritually) or otherwise extended beyond comfort, it can be impossible to find the compassion within us to be kind to others. But when we are well rested, well tended -- especially if it is self-tended -- and connected to some measurable amount of joy, we are far more easily able to see the good in others.

Stress is a beast that clouds our vision. I challenge each and every one of us to figure out how to relieve the often-unchecked stress in our lives so that we can access our inner joy. I believe it is essential for the preservation of humanity that we soften our hearts and heal our souls. Only then can we be clear enough, strong enough and giving enough to help heal others.

President Obama recently spoke about the need for Americans to do as much as we can to prevent senseless loss of life. While we may argue about how to reduce mass or individual murders, I trust that we all believe that human life should be cherished above all else.

I heard a story recently that provides insight into how we can right our proverbial ship. A devoted mother taught her children the value of life by telling them to close their eyes and picture themselves holding a precious gem. When they opened their eyes, they were to imagine seeing that gem in the palm of their hand, gleaming so brightly that it brought an immediate smile to their faces. This wise mother instructed her children to remember that gem, especially when they were feeling low, hurt or uncomfortable. Their lives were precious, and within them those gems were shining brightly. She instructed that if they could remember that, they would stand stronger and naturally navigate life with greater ease.

Let us choose to remember our greatness. In turn, let us see the greatness in others and inspire those in our midst to choose to be honorable and kind. This is my goal in 2013.