I have had a lot of deep thoughts about mortality lately. Probably not the cheeriest way to kick off a post about the holidays, but I’ve promised authenticity on I&H, and that’s where my head has been these past several weeks. These thoughts started with the attacks in Paris, made worse by the threat on New York City, and the shootings in Colorado Springs and San Bernardino. I was taking my life for granted before these events. Now, my frame of mind is different.

I live with the thought “What if tomorrow was my last day on earth?” in a much more literal sense now. This question is less about living in constant fear, and more about trying to live the life I want to be living at this very moment. Have I put some good back in the world today? Have I expressed my love and appreciation for the people I care about? Have I made an effort to expand my worldview to consider all aspects of an issue? Have I reminded myself that regardless of background, ethnicity, or hometown, most people want the same thing from life: to be loved and to love in return?

Thinking about all of this in regards to the holidays has reframed what this season truly means to me. When talking to my mom about my “wish list” a few nights ago, I was at a loss. The tangible, the material, no longer holds much weight. My wish list and resolutions are much greater than something any one person can give.

I wish for people to take pause before making assumptions about another person (or group of people) based on preconceived prejudices. I wish we would think with love and compassion in mind over hostility heightened by fear. I wish we would remember that when we disseminate hateful words against others, there will always be people on the opposite end listening and absorbing these ideas.

I resolve to live my own life with this wish list in mind. Smiling at more strangers on the subway. Seeking out experiences that challenge my current ideologies. Talking to people different from myself and really listening to their stories. Reflecting on the gifts I have been given in life, and finding ways to give them back to the world. There is a lot to be sad and scared about right now, but what I also know is this: there will be no peace until we choose peace. It starts with me. It starts with you. It starts with our friends, family, and greater community. Let’s prove that love is more powerful than fear.