It's New Years, which means it's that time when everyone comes up with their year-end reviews, top ten lists, and judgements on their personal successes and failures of the past year.
There's both good and bad in that. Reflecting back on your life can be a healthy exercise, but it can also be a precarious game that will easily drag you away from mindfulness. Like most opportunities in life, it really depends on how you use it.
When you're looking back on the past year as an exercise in renewal, you have two options:
Option #1: reflect on both the ups and downs of the past year, take from them the life lessons
they extol, and use this new found inspiration to make the next year a better one.
Option #2: reflect mostly on the downs of the past year, regret them, curse them, use them as an
example of why the past year was terrible, and then believe that engaging in this
exasperated act of faux reflection will somehow make the next year a better one.
I would say the choice is pretty obvious, but that’s just me.
Maybe I'm just perpetually hopeful, but I've never been disappointed in a year. Sure I’ve had intensely difficult times in my life making certain years seem better than others, but even in those bad years there has always been love. There has always been light to be found somewhere in the darkness. Things always eventually get better, so I always expect them to.
I also believe that reflection is something we could be doing every day of our lives, no matter what the date. Waiting for a certain day in a calendar to learn from life can lead you to neglect your well-being on all the other days.
But I know there's something about New Years that gives it that extra weight, and there's nothing wrong with using that weight to your benefit.
That's the key: New Years has the power to make us pause and reflect, so we should use that power to improve our lives. for this and all the coming years.
Next year isn't going to be better just because it's different. We can beat ourselves up all we'd like over the failures of the last year, but that won't changing anything in the future unless we decide to learn from our mistakes and grow from the tragedies.
Instead lamenting the past and then hoping for the new year will make it all better, take whatever made the past year suck and use it to inspire a better future.
Instead of resting your hope in the New Year, rest your hope in yourself.