When I set out to conquer the world in 2012 (well, not the world, but you know what I mean), I said that 2012 was going to be a great year. I was going to make it the best year ever, live it up, and was convinced so many "great things" would happen.
As I sit at my home on Monday evening, December 31st, the phrase "great year" is not exactly jumping out at me. I'll be honest: this year wasn't easy. My happiness felt as if it trickled in and out all the time - I felt down in the dumps more often than I preferred. I traveled so much for work and weddings (which made things difficult financially, and I never felt like I took trips for myself). Work was very stressful compared to the other years at my organization. I felt chronically behind in sleep and exhausted all the time. I didn't "see" much progress happen in other areas of my life. It almost felt as if life for me stayed exactly same as it was the previous year. In addition, December's tragedy in Connecticut shook me to the core (on multiple levels)...and I still am struggling to get over the incident (I don't think I ever really will). For the icing on the cake, this Christmas wasn't exactly my favorite. Isn't Santa supposed to be a guaranteed win?!
After reflecting on all of this, I asked myself: "Why do I feel as if nothing exciting happened to me this year? I know 365 days must have provided me with something to celebrate, right?"
Fortunately, I came up with a possible answer to this question. When we think of what it means to "have a great year," our thoughts often wander to stereotypical American/cultural achievements or sensational moments. For example:
-Buying a home
-Meeting the love of your life
-Losing 20 lbs
-Getting a promotion
-Having a child
-Remodeling your kitchen
-Starting a new business
In addition, when you run into someone you know, we tend to ask each other the same set of questions: "How is your home? How is your dog/child/husband/etc? How is work? You look great - did you lose weight?" While these things are certainly important areas of our lives, I'm not convinced that we should use them as a way to assess our progress or complete happiness in life. It's like putting all of our eggs into one basket and saying: "If these three things don't happen this year, then I won't be happy or feel as if I accomplished anything."
When I take a closer look at 2012, I think that a lot of what I went through related to the concept of my life journey and learning experiences. Thus, I have officially decided to call 2012 "The Year of Learning." While I may not have achieved anything "new" or have"big news" to report, I have been learning a TON about myself and life in general. This relates to my friendships, family, dating relationships, the work environment, my health, the world around me, volunteering, and how I spend my time. Maybe it's hard to capture those unique learning experiences (like the checklist above), but is that what the year is really about? Is it all about a list that highlights all the things we've accomplished?
One of the best lessons I learned this year was about the overall concept of happiness. I stumbled upon a quote in February that really made me think:
"Happiness is never constant, and it’s not supposed to be. You have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life. To believe that you can reach a state of happiness and stay there forever, is like the tide believing she can reach for the shoreline and remain there forever; or like a fruit tree believing that if she only holds on tighter, she can keep her fruit from dropping to the ground. Happiness is simply a series of moments that come and go and add sweetness to our lives. Learn to accept this, and the more happy moments you will have."
I LOVE THIS QUOTE. The main reason is that it reminds me that you can't expect everything to be perfect all the time. There will be crappy days/weeks/months. You will struggle in your relationships. You will feel not hot sometimes. You will have days at work that are stressful. Friends will let you down. You will let your friends down. The list goes on. However, the more you can accept that happiness is "never constant," the happier you can feel. Not only are our expectations more reasonable, but when awesome things do happen, we feel so much more excited and grateful for our blessings. We then can live "great" lives. Cheers to that!
What is something that you learned about this year that you can celebrate as we kick off 2013?