I was driving with the radio on the other day, and a holiday ad came on that started with, “Have you been naughty or nice this year?” My first reaction was, “Hmmmmm. Define ‘naughty’.” And then I got to thinking: Just how DO we assess our own personal ethics for the year? Have I been “nice”, adhering to my own brand of personal ethics and integrity, or have I been “naughty”, deviating from the values and behavioral standards that I set for myself? If the whole notion of “Santa’s Elves”, watching us throughout the year and motivating us to be “nice” so that we get desired toys at Christmas, were real, what would they report back to Santa?
I think of personal ethics as being in various “domains” of life, such as our mental health, health, relationships, career, finances, family, community, and spirituality (which are the domains as chapters of my upcoming book, “Self-Empowerment: Have the Life You Want”.
If I consider all of these domains, I think my overall naughty/nice performance in 2010 varies. I’ve probably been naughty in my finances in not saving enough for retirement (who really does?) and I’ve been nice in health by taking good care of myself through several health challenges.
But let’s look at these, and see if you can assess yourself.
Mental Health – Are you being nice to yourself by taking time to take care of yourself, balance work with home, and access the things that bring you joy? Or are you naughty, by overworking or doing things that create depression, guilt, regret, or frustration? Are you being nice to yourself by getting the help you need (including counseling or coaching), or are you depriving yourself of help and putting it off?
Health – Are you being nice to your body? Do your food, exercise, and other habits constitute being naughty or nice this year? Are you getting the medical exams and tests that you need? Are you avoiding the things that really drag down the quality of your health?
Career – Have you been diligent, productive, and working in good faith? Or have you spent way too much time at the office reading blogs (oops!), surfing the Net, or browsing Ebay? Have you given credit where credit is due? Are you being nice to your assistant or boss? Are you being catty, or staying above the fray of office politics with class and grace?
Relationships – Are you being kind to your partner? Or if you don’t have one, and want one, are you being nice to yourself in making good-faith efforts to find one? Are you being nice to yourself by being just the right amount of “naughty” in sex, but nice enough so that you are taking care of your sexual health? Are you being honest and communicating your feelings in a way that validates both you AND a partner?
Finances – Are you being nice to your long-term fiscal health? Are you being naughty by spending your money in a way that is not compatible with your priorities, values, and goals?
Community – Are you making ANY kind of contribution to your community? Whether geographic, or demographic (gay, HIV, male, etc.). Are you emulating George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life”, and creating a contribution to your community so that they would remember you fondly in some way?
Spirituality – This is the ultimate “naughty or nice”, if you believe in the religions that harp on “sin” and such, but aside from this, are you being nice to yourself in practicing a spirituality (consistently) that means something to you? Or are you being naughty and being a slave to a religion’s beliefs that no longer fit who you are? Sometimes, being “nice” means emulating the inspirations we value from Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, the Goddess, God, etc., etc.
If YOU were one of Santa’s elves, what kind of “report” would you give back to Santa on yourself?
Jack Canfield’s book that I like so much, “The Success Principles”, devotes an entire chapter to “personal integrity”. This is something that we must all strive to improve, because it is VERY hard to achieve 100 percent personal integrity, 100 percent of the time. But its sentiments support, in more formal terms, the idea that personal ethics ARE important for success in life, and while there may not be real “Santa’s elves” watching us, WE are watching us, and hoping that we like what we see.
If your personal ethics are more “lump of coal” quality than “hunky porn star in your stocking” quality, don’t lose hope. There is a brand-new year coming up that offers the opportunity to turn over a new leaf and re-commit to the kind of personal integrity that works for you and the ones you influence. You have to embrace the concept of “Self-Empowerment” that enables that for various domains of your life (see book plug, above).
Forgive yourself for the parts of your personal ethics that have been naughty this year, but commit to meaningful change. It’s the nice thing to do for yourself