So another year’s in the books. C’est la vie, 2016, you piece of crap, you. Right?
Maybe things went well for you personally; maybe they didn’t. Things sure as hell didn’t go well for, oh, about about one-third of all celebrities alive on January 1, 2016. Oh, wait, what’s that? Another one just slipped earth’s surly bonds since you started reading this? Seems about right.
Speaking of celebrities, I’ve always been intrigued by how much credence — how many mental cycles — we give to these fame-based and ego-driven souls. Particularly when they die. Particularly in bunches. Like now. I’m certainly guilty of it, too.
But then I think: “Did (or can) these people really impact my life at a personal level?” Maybe they touched me emotionally, comically or dramatically for a moment here or there — all of which is good. But … personally? Not so much. Seems our fascination with things famous continues to transcend rational thinking — elevating celebs’ impact to artificially high levels.
You certainly have the right to be less than pleased — about some things, anyway. Maybe you think your next president is just dreadful and scares the living snot out of you, or maybe not. Maybe you worry about terrorism, or maybe you don’t. Maybe you lost a love — or a loved one. Maybe the recent deaths of all these famous people are making you think of your own mortality.
Comme ci, comme ça.
This life thing is funny, isn’t it? A small-but-important number of events are in our sphere of control, but most others are in The Big Guy’s hands. Deal.
I’ve thought about this transition into 2017, and, although I don’t have any classic resolutions, I am cogitating furiously on what 2016 has meant to me and the lessons the past 12 months’ve foisted into my remit. These lessons have helped me; my hope is that you may be able to see yourself in one or more of these and eke out some sort of value.
The first lesson I’ve learned in 2016 is perspective. Real, and most importantly, accurate perspective — in where I am in life, how I got here, where I want to go next. Perspective in letting go, of enjoying the present moment. I guess the new, PC-appropriate buzzword mentioned in about every third Flipboard article encapsulating this sentiment is that of “mindfulness,” although that term seems a bit kludgy to most.
For me, perspective slings me cognitively back to my family. I’ve been the undeserving co-paternal recipient of two daughters and a wife who challenge me, make my soul laugh and help me grow in ways I’d never dreamed of. In spite of our normal challenges, this newfound perspective I’ve gained has made me a more other-centered, more empathetic beast.
The second lesson I’ve learned in 2016 is the classic “counting my blessings.” It’s such a cliché, isn’t it, this counting-of-ones-blessings business? But, clichés are clichés for a reason: they represent a certain type of distilled, hardened wisdom that generations have come to benefit from, harness and pass on.
When I consider whether to bitch about vs. appreciate life’s insane amount of every day blessings, I’m reminded that I have to spend energy one way or another — negatively or positively. I might as well spend those carbon cranial atoms positively since they’ve gotta be discharged anyway. And, taking numerical inventory of my blessings helps tremendously.
Oh, and fear’s so stagnant, so uncreative, so last Thursday. The things you fear you’ve probably feared for a long time, yet they’ve never come true, right? Yet, we humans seem to be so good at white-knuckle clutching this fear thing — the same, boring fears — for some reason. The key about fear, I’m finding, is asking myself: “what’s the benefit of holding onto fear x, y or z — how does that improve my life?”
The answers, respectively, are that there are zero benefits to fear and it doesn’t improve my life in any way. Fear, I guess, was just comfortable — the devil I knew.
Oh, it’s not that I don’t fear things ever. Even silly, stupid things. But I’ve learned that any badness I’ve experienced in the fear department is No. 1, a choice; No. 2, not from God; and, No. 3, unnecessarily, suffocatingly limiting. And, anything that’s a choice that limits me — when put into that perspective — makes the next step much, much easier: let it go.
Remember: your words matter — they drive your emotions and, in turn, your behavior. After all, in 2016, most people reading this didn’t have a personal tragedy, they didn’t lose someone they loved dearly and knew intimately, and, they didn’t become stricken with a life-threatening disease. Stating that a lot of celebrities died and that’s what made 2016 suck is not a good reason. Don’t tell me it sucked if it really didn’t; I’d rather watch paint dry.
Your choice regarding the light you actively, daily bring into the world — your spirit — is a better barometer of the value you produced (or had the potential to produce) in 2016. If you’re having a difficult time realizing that, maybe you’re focusing on the wrong things.
Maybe it’s just time to stop looking at celebrities, terrorism, the presidential election and other excuses “out there,” and start taking personal inventory of what really matters, of what’s really in your control and of the ordinary miracles you received in 2016. Every. Single. Day.
Look, here’s the deal — three things: First, gain a true perspective of the goodness you made happen in 2016. Second, actually enumerate and name the everyday blessings you’ve experienced, maybe even shaking things up by re-defining what a blessing is. Finally, third, let go of fear. Now.
Better yet, act in spite of fear, harnessing its energy and flipping the script by making fear your little cognitive bitch in 2017.
2017 is here. Are you ready? Is your mental and emotional posture embracing it or dreading it? It’s a choice.
I say bring it, 2017. What say you?