So, it’s Happy New Year time! Enough money to solve world hunger has been spent on fireworks and Facebook is awash with cheery messages between family and friends wishing each other a ‘magical’ 2015: ‘may all your dreams come true’ and ‘may this be the best year ever’, etc, etc. I love fireworks, and value everyone’s good wishes, but find myself strangely reluctant to join in. I’m trying to work out if it’s just me being Annette-the-Party-Pooper, or if there’s something more to listen to in it. I thought I’d let you in on my ponderings ….
Every New Year we repeatedly dare to hope that somehow life will get better, be happier, more fulfilling. But let’s be honest, come next Monday morning, most of us will return to a life that looks much like the one we were living in 2014; all that make-believe about this year being ‘the’ year like so much champagne gone flat, our resolutions forgotten or abandoned, and, for many, ‘quiet desperation’ rather than ‘magic’ the flavour of our daily diet. How much, and in what ways, did your life change last year?
What’s to be done? How can we truly invest in our happiness this year? Let me ask you a question: What do you want this year?
Now, what do you really want?
And again, what do you really, really want?
And finally, to get it, what do you need to add in, or let go of?
One way of working out what we really, really want, not just for this year but for the rest of our lives, is to try the following imaginative experiment:
Imagine you’re near the end of your life, celebrating your birthday. As you look around, at family and friends gathered to celebrate with you, and reflect on your life, what are the 3-5 things that will have made your life happy and fulfilled? e.g. children, partner, work (paid or voluntary), travel, sport, creative pursuit, good food, your home…..
Next, what would you want to hear your loved ones say about you?
And finally, what would you like written as your obituary? (Keep this brief – 2 sentences will help you focus on what’s most important.)
It’s really worth taking a few minutes to do this. Hopefully it will filter your attention down to what really matters to you and you can set your sights on investing in those things.
My own answers boil down to my relationships, both personal and in my spiritual direction and therapy work; and also to my creative endeavours: to have loved others, and myself, well; to have added to, rather than subtracted from, the compassion and beauty in the world; to have lived wholeheartedly. It seems to me I can use that realisation to filter all sorts of choices I make each day so that I build an investment in what really matters to me. (And of course, every day I will fail in this, fail those I love, and make poor choices, but I hope each year to see a little more of me oriented towards what really matters.)
And with that, I really do wish you all a happy and fulfilling 2015.