According to multiple reports, 2015 was a great year for the average human being. Well, I must be average because I did have a pretty great year.
Actually, all kidding aside, if there’s one good thing the article I linked to in that first paragraph does, it’s put the year into perspective. Yes, mass shootings, racism, terrorism, and other awful things dominated the headlines, from Charleston to Israel to Paris to Syria to San Bernardino to wherever Donald Trump was speaking. But let’s not forget, there was also much to celebrate: the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, the Patriots won the Super Bowl, and in many ways, quality of life for the considerable majority of the planet’s population actually improved this year.
Yes, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in recent years, it’s that perspective is key. Things can always be better or worse than they appear. We can dwell on the negative or we can see things in a different context, and accentuate the positive.
In the case of my 2015, perspective was very important.
Many times when I became frustrated, angry, or generally unhappy, I tried to see things differently. To that end, even on so-called bad days, I was able to recognize at least one thing that made me happy, and be grateful for it. I documented those things in my 2015 Happiness Project blog post. Sometimes that thing was as simple as the elevator going “express” from the lobby to the 11th floor. Or eating a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. Sometimes it was bigger, like my arriving in a city I’d wanted to visit for a few years. But my theory was proven: Every day does contain at least one thing to be happy about. We just have to choose to see and recognize it.
Suffice it to say, when I look back on 2015, I know I could have done more, tried harder, or been a better person. But I don’t remember disappointments like the dating relationships that didn’t work out. I err on the positive, and choose to be happy that I was back in the game after a too-long dry spell.
I choose to remember that I was able to change jobs because I wanted to, not because I had to. (Unemployment will give you that perspective.)
I choose to remember that my excessive time on social media, which I love but can sometimes frustrate and annoy me, resulted in the formation or deepening of some genuine friendships with awesome people — many of whom I was lucky enough to meet offline this year (some before there was even such a thing as #socialroadtrip).
I choose to remember that I saw 85 movies — the most I’ve ever seen in a single year — and that I published reviews on my blog more actively, even if they were brief and only published once a month. (BTW, happy 10th blogiversary to me!)
I choose to remember a lot of concerts and other live music: Jamie Cullum, James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt, Zac Brown Band, Barenaked Ladies, Train, The Lone Bellow … and Foreigner too! Not to mention Grey Season, who I had the good fortune to discover randomly on Newbury Street on July 4th.
I choose to remember seeing Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs for the first time. And that I also traveled to Chicago, Albany, Cleveland, Las Vegas, and Florida. And of course, to New York as well to spend good times with my niece and nephews.
I choose to remember … well, you get the point.
No, this was not a perfect year for me. Friends and family members had health issues or went through some other challenging times. I didn’t get as much accomplished at work as I hoped to. And yes, there was a lot of sadness brought about by those too-frequent shootings and other violent events around the world.
It’s not that I’m ignoring those things. I just know this year could have been much worse — for me, and for others — and that there are more positive things to remember than there are negative ones. Call me naive, but that’s what I want to take away from 2015.
I end this year with good friends, memories of good times, and optimism that the next year will be even better than this one was. I’m happy and healthy. I continue to be very lucky in many respects; not everyone can say that.
Perspective can be really helpful. I’m glad I have it. I’m glad I can have it. I hope you have it too.
Thank you for reading and for being a part of my 2015. Here’s to even better things in 2016. Happy New Year!