Looking Forward: A Year Lived in Gratitude

Every year, since I was a teenager, I have a written a New Year’s reflection. Its format, date, and the number of people with whom I’ve shared it have all varied, but I’ve kept it up for more than two decades now. Today, I’m using some of my last few solitary moments of the year to write that reflection–which is more about looking forward.

Most of us have been emotionally and physically exhausted by 2016. A bruising presidential campaign was followed by an election that still has many of us feeling uncertain and scared about our future. We have been met with images of violence and devastation from as far away as Aleppo and as close as our own city. Even the number of deaths of beloved celebrities seems unusually high. This year, or at least the first half of it, was difficult for me personally, as I fought my way through a three month major depressive episode.

It would be easy to look toward the coming year with a feeling of despair. The idea for my attempt to guard against that occurred on Thanksgiving weekend. I was starting to fall into my all too familiar trap of lamenting what could have been when the friend I was with reminded me that doing that makes it hard to be grateful for what I do have. And from that the idea for my year lived in gratitude was born.

The next weekend I wrote a thank you note of sorts, and I have written one each week since. (Okay, I haven’t written this week’s yet. I hope to do that this morning. If not, I’ll do two next week when I get back.) My goal is to write to a different person each week for a year because I know there really are at least 52 people in my life to whom I am grateful. If 2017 ends up being anything like 2016, I will need to be reminded of that, and quite possibly, those people will need to be as well. If, and I hope this is the case, it turns out to be immeasurably better, it will just be one more little bit of happiness for all involved.

The events of the past year often made it difficult to feel hopeful. As someone who often struggles to see the blessings right in front of me, I’m hoping that this year lived in gratitude is the first step.

 

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