It’s the Year of the Rabbit and we should all focus on rest, introspection and working smarter, not harder.

The Lunar New Year, celebrated mainly by the Chinese diaspora and other East Asian cultures, as well as the Vietnamese, will begin on Sunday, kicking off 15 days of festivities and customs. While the previous Year of the Tiger was seen as a powerful period of action and sometimes momentum, the sign of the rabbit is expected to usher in a softer period focused on self-reflection, Jonathan HX Lee, an Asian and Asian-American. professor at San Francisco State University, told NBC News.

«There’s a lot of prospects for prosperity and flourishing and peace, really,» said Lee, whose research focuses on religions and folklore. «The rabbit is a very strong symbol of peace.»

Lee added that in order to make the most of the year, people must also conduct themselves in accordance with this calm energy.

“There has to be a moment of introspection and consideration in being, in action, and intent on achieving long-term success,” Lee said. “You are going to be much more conservative and thoughtful in your decision making.”

Furthermore, the years are further classified as one of the two sides of the yin yang symbol. This year is considered yin and, compared to its lighter, more active counterpart, emphasizes the importance of rest, Lee said.

The rabbit is a symbol of intellect and caution. According to tradition, the rabbit was among the 12 animals that ran towards the Jade Emperor in a cosmic competition that ultimately determined the order of the Chinese zodiac signs. Although he was a weak swimmer, the rabbit used his brain and opted to cross the river part of the course in a raft. Like the animal, Lee said, it’s important to approach everything in an intelligent and deliberate way.

“If you look at the economy and real estate, last year was a year dictated by FOMO. ‘I’ve got to go find the lowest mortgage rates ever, I’ve got to go buy something,’” Lee said. “This year, it will not be the same. You are not going to jump in and get any type of loan and offer anything on a house. … If you just jumped because of FOMO, you’re in for a whole host of problems.”

The rabbit in the Chinese zodiac also speaks to the power of empathy. At one point in the race, the rabbit got stuck in the water. The dragon, flying overhead, chose to finish behind its forest friend, blowing a strong gust of wind to help send the rabbit across the finish line. The act speaks to the importance of giving and receiving compassion, Lee said.

Other Chinese and Buddhist mythology confirms the rabbit’s role in fostering empathy, Lee explained. In a Buddhist story, an old man and a boy got lost in the desert, hungry and cold. The Buddha, who took the form of a rabbit, lit a fire and jumped into the flames, thus sacrificing himself to nurture the two, Lee said.

For the Asian-American community in particular, the past year has been one of aggressive organizing and mobilizing against anti-Asian hate, Lee said. But the rabbit can teach us to value some significant everyday gestures that can nurture our relationships.

“This year perhaps it is calling us to think more abroad. What do those around me need? What does my community need? What does my country need? How can I put myself at the service of my community? Lee said.

There are other aspects of the upcoming vacation that also affirm a calmer energy. The year falls under the sign of water, Lee explained. And while water, one of the five elements in the cycle, can be a powerful force, it can also be viewed through a more Taoist lens that involves going with the flow rather than fighting it.

“It’s about realizing that there needs to be some self-care to continue to care for others, because there will be burnout,” Lee said. «It’s a time to take stock of a situation and then make the best decision with the resources we have… How can we really resolve and end the anti-Asian hate that still lingers?»

Those who were born under the Rabbit years (2023, 2011, 1999, 1987, etc.) should try to behave more cautiously, as the consequences of their actions are magnified, Lee said.

“If they are thoughtful, intelligent, astute, and resourceful in their decision-making and life choices, they can prosper the most in terms of their prosperity, health, and longevity,” he said. «On the contrary, if they are not, it will be difficult times.»