The On Purpose podcast by Jay Shetty discussed how we go through “seasons” in life: Learn, Experiment, Perform, Struggle, Thrive. I also watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory where Leonard got a letter from his brother explaining all the great things that he had achieved. Leonard then started thinking about his own life and felt less-than compared. And so, I wanted to share my own thoughts on this.
The truth is, we can’t have a “good year” every year.
I’ve found that I’ve had on-and-off years for a while. 2014 was kind of good, 2015 was not. 2016 was good, 2017 was not. 2018 was good, 2019 has not been.
And perhaps this is just how it goes, not necessarily as neat as this, but we have good and bad years and that’s just how it is. We can’t always be in good periods…
Subjectivity and Perspective
Firstly, let’s just say that a “good year” is subjective. For some, a good year must include 5 different vacations, a new car, a raise from work, paying off the mortgage and skydiving for charity. While to someone else, a good year just means having fun with their loved ones.
It is up to us to decide if the year was good.
And in the same breath, we must know that we all have a habit of zooming in too much on one thing. That our years are filled with 12 months, 365 days and yet we only ever focus on a select few.
With a wider, more accurate perspective of our lives, we notice that there was probably more “good” in it than we remember. That our negativity bias would have us sooner focus on those bad months than the good ones.
As I say, our minds aren’t perfect. We don’t remember things as they were; our memories are flawed. This means that our minds can choose to remember certain things and completely forget others. I know that my partner or my sister have said things that happened that I completely forgot about.
Our reality is a product of our perception; our perception of life is influenced by emotions, experiences and thoughts. Imperfect memories, temporary emotions, and unfiltered thoughts coming together to change the picture into something very skewed.
What we think we see and how we think we feel, may not be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!
At the end of each year, or even at the halfway points, I like to list the good things or the achievements from the year. But, of course, how are we to remember everything? Or remember things accurately when looking back after days, weeks and months have passed by in-between?
And of course, you’re not going to think much of your own life when you compare it to everyone else’s. Take my brother, for example. From the outside looking in, his year has been amazing. Mine, not so much. Comparing mine to his (and with knowing his plans for next year), I feel jealous and look at my own year as a shit-show!
But if we take a moment to really see our own lives (or year) for what it really is, and stop looking around at everyone else’s Highlight Reel, we might just see how good our year was after all.
We can’t always be in the winning season, that’s just the truth. Just because you’re not “winning” though, doesn’t mean you’re losing…
We have a greater appreciation for the good things in life and the high times, when we have a balance and a comparison with the bad.
I’m not saying that your year wasn’t bad. I know some people have had truly awful things happen this year, and I would never patronise you or take away from that pain. But it might be a bad year, or a bad few years, not a bad life. That a bad year doesn’t mean, as someone I love once said, “that the best years of life are gone now.”
Do your best with each year you’re blessed with. Make the most of each day. Try to shine a spotlight on the good. And accept and try to learn from or move past the bad.
That’s all you can do.
So, when thinking about this year and the coming of the New Year, think more widely. Think about your life and the years that lace together like a long, complex story. That you won’t always be thriving. You won’t always have exciting years or newness. Sometimes, it’s just about having woke up and smiled every day.
I hope you can see the good in this year; I know I’m trying to.