Your Year in Review

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This is the time of year for remembering. But some years there has been too much pain and sorrow, so now I focus on remembering only good things. It seems to be working.

Does that sound kind of like Pollyanna, look at the bright side, “turn that frown upside down” kind of sap? Well, what I’m finding is that, the more you notice positive things, the more there are to notice. And sometimes the things we think are negatives can turn out to be good for us. With practice, you start to put the hard things in perspective and appreciate the good things more.

So remembering 2011, the big headline for me is the birth of Anaya Grace, our first grandchild. That has been really good for me and for many people in our family. It’s so encouraging to see the great-grandmothers light up when Anaya is around. I don’t know why people find babies so cheering, but whatever it is, she has it.

Other than Anaya, the best personal thing for me has probably been discovering Taoism. Taoism encourages us to be ourselves, let go of anxieties and drives, and just live naturally. It’s led me to other spiritual/personal development practices that seem to be helping, like Byron Katie’s book Loving What Is.

I’ve always wanted to feel more relaxed and at peace, and now I’m starting to do it! Admittedly, I feel guilty about it sometimes. How can I feel so happy when others are so miserable? But then, maybe they’re not as miserable as I imagine. Maybe most people are happier than they let on.

Guilty or not, I’m seeing most things as positives now. What I suggest for New Year’s is writing down one positive thing in your personal life, and one in the larger world. You don’t have to limit your menu to one of each. Put down all the good things you can think of!

When I asked some friends what good things they remembered from 2011, many concerned children. “My daughter got her first job.” “My nephew got into Stanford,” or things like that. Others remembered beautiful things they had seen, trips they had taken, people who had come into their lives, even books and movies that had touched them. What things come up for you?

The hard one might be the “good thing for the world.” I think I’ll go with the Occupy movement, although I’m also inspired by the amazing ways people find to make things better, even in desperate circumstances. I’m thinking of some of the water development programs I saw in the movie FLOW: For Love of Water. People really do wonderful things if they have half a chance. This makes me hopeful.

So Happy New Year to everyone. Thank you all for reading. I know my stuff isn’t perfect, but I hope it’s useful to you at least some of the time. Thanks for all your comments, and I’m sure we’ll have some interesting discussions in 2012!

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