“This year’s going to be better than the last year.”
That’s a phrase that I hear all the time – one I’ve even used myself. Sometimes it might even be true. It is no surprise that some years really are just not that good, and though I’m all for positive thinking and stating those thoughts out loud, I think it’s a good time to remind everyone that your year is entirely what you make of it, good or bad.
I think we’re all obsessed with “being happy”, but what does that even mean? It’s an abstract concept that’s relative only to the person experiencing the emotion. The problem is that we hang our happiness, our expectations of a “good year”, on events, and people, and things that happen. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – when the events and people are positive. What happens, though, when the bad things start to happen as they inevitably do? Suddenly you’re having a shit year and everything sucks and you just can’t wait for next year. I’m not saying that it’s necessarily bad to think or feel that way, but I am warning against allowing yourself to dwell on it or to let that thought take over. It’s a slippery slope into Negative Town and it will color everything you do.
The internet has been more than ready for 2017 to start, and I celebrate it with you. Last year was rough in a lot of ways, but we got through it. We will continue to get through everything, because that is what we do.
So, some unsolicited advice for you for this new year:
- Stay kind. This should go without saying, but really focus on it. I mean it. While you’re driving in your car and that jerkwad cuts you off because he’s driving like a maniac – stay kind. Do what you need to do to vent your frustration (I usually cuss like a sailor), and then remember that he’s a person, too, and he’s experiencing life right now and you don’t know what he might be going through or why he’s rushing. He could just be a jerkwad – there are plenty of those – but staying kind really is more for your own peace of mind and well being than anything else.
- Stick to your guns. This could mean with others (not letting people push you around), or with yourself. We always make the dreaded New Year’s resolutions. Better eating habits, more exercise, kicking the bad habits. Don’t let yourself be your own worst enemy. If you fall off the wagon for a bit, get back on. You can keep going at any time. Don’t let yourself become discouraged because you missed a day, a week, a month of the new habit you were trying to form. Tell that inner self that’s trying to talk you out of it to shut up and keep going!
- Start small. If you do make yourself some resolutions, remember to start small. We are capable of wonderful things when we put our mind to it, but our minds are tricky and can often convince us of things that are not true (you’re failing, you can’t do this, you can do all the things). We are not super human (weird, right?), so setting large, unreachable goals will only make it harder on you and increase your sense of failure. Now, don’t get me wrong – just because a goal is large does not mean it is unattainable. Just don’t forget to set up the baby steps that get you there.
- Make it positive. Life is hard, messy, disappointing, challenging, awful, wonderful, inspiring, beautiful, crazy – life just is. It’s going to be all those things and a whole lot more, and a new year isn’t going to change that. It’s going to be what it always has been. So much of being ‘happy’ in life is working really, really hard to stay positive. It’s not always something that can be done. I’m not saying every bad event will have a silver lining, but try to find one when you can. When there is absolutely no silver lining to be found, go to your support network. Friends, family, loved ones. Keep the positive people in your life around you. Let them be there for you, let them help you and allow yourself to be vulnerable, allow yourself to be sad. Be wary of remaining in that dark place for too long, however. And if your support network isn’t working, if all of your attempts to stay positive just aren’t working, if everything is darkness and it feels like there will never be any light – don’t be afraid to seek out professional help. That is not and never will be a weakness.
Now, get out there and go make 2017 a good year, because only you can do that and I think it’s going to be great.
Thank you for taking the time to read today. As part of my own New Year’s resolutions, I have added writing back onto the list. I allowed life to get in the way of one of my passions and “fell off the wagon” myself. I truly hope to have at least one update a week for your viewing pleasure. Some of my own resolutions include: writing more; eating better; drinking more water; taking my dog on more outings; reading more; taking better care of my house. A rather intimidating list! What are some of your resolutions? What steps are you taking to ensure their success? Share with me in the comments.