Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The New Year

As we come to the end of 2011 I thought I’d share a few thoughts on how I hope to make 2012 even better than 2011. Don’t get me wrong, I am pretty darned pumped about how fit I am, how well I am doing at selling off the clocks I have bought over the last 20 years, how well this blog is being accepted, and how our vegetarian diet is fitting both Kelly and I. So, pretty happy. But, my nephew sent me a provocative article and I wanted to use it as a basis for talking about how we can make next year memorable.

1. Heard of a bucket list? The concept is that you list specific things you want to do or have or experience before you, well, kick the bucket. If you haven’t given this any thought, now is the time to decide at least one thing that you need to do/see/have. And go for it.

Face it – so much of your life has been spent doing what you had to do – or what others expect you to do. I suggest you try to identify something that will give you a great deal of satisfaction – the kinds of things I really get into are new skills – wood carving – that was 2 years ago. Hammered dulcimer – that was 3 years ago. I suppose 2011 gets using Olympic rings. So, for 2012? Good question. I need to make that decision. But, at least I know I want to come out of 2012 with something wonderful to look back on.

2. Begin now simplifying your life – decide what you really need, and forego what you don’t. Spending less (yes, your car will run for a long, long time if you take care of it) means having to work that much less. And, if you can relieve some of the financial stress that drives most peoples work schedule you can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And start doing the things that are so often sacrificed to bring home a check: Vacations with loved ones, working out with your wife or children, WORKING OUT…

3. Be willing to take a little risk – be the one who helps someone make the copier work, wishes people a great day, even if you don’t know them, asking if you can help when you see someone struggling with a box/door/whatever. Message here is to reach out and make the world better for those around you. The payback will be immense.

4. Stay in touch with friends. It really is up to you to make the effort to keep in touch with those who are significant in your life. Today we are all way busy, and there are so very many distractions that keep us from keeping in contact. I was reading about how pervasive on-line games are becoming – people are loosing touch with others just because they have fallen into pastimes that are centered on activities that isolates them. Way too much research has shown the value of friendships – reach out – keep them fresh – keep your friends!

5. Let yourself be happy. At some point I became a little better at letting frustrations go – I wrote a post about my subconscious listing of what went right on a day that I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to. As I mentioned at that point, I was surprised to find that I had developed an automatic coping mechanism – I just started subconsciously listing everything that went right, allowing me to reduce the impact of the things that didn’t go the way I wanted.

Bottom line – happiness is our choice. We can let things get to us, or we can cope, find reasons for joy, and be happy.

The article that my nephew sent discussed the regrets that people express when they find their time is running short – when they are forced to face their own mortality. We all owe it to ourselves to live our lives in such a way that we can smile, and honestly say we have had a good life.

Bucket List, simplify your life, take a little risk, stay in touch, let yourself be happy. Think of these as 2012 starts, and find little ways to make them happen.

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