“Happiness is the experience of living every moment with love, grace and gratitude.” Denis Waitley
As this year comes to a close, it is only natural for all of us to look back and judge the year we had. We decide whether it was good or bad and hope, either way, that next year will be better. For me, 2014 was one hell of a difficult year. When I first thought about writing this blog (about a month ago), I was squarely in the camp that 2014 was a bad year and that I was ready to bid it good riddance – I couldn’t get a word down on paper. But, as I sat in reflection of this past year, a different picture slowly began to emerge.
There is no doubt that at various points this year I felt what so many of us feel in a bad year: helpless, weak, hopeless, angry, and heartbreaking pain. But, most of all, I felt powerless. At any other point in my life, I think that the events might have done me in – and truly, no one would fault me if I decided to crawl up into a ball and not come out of my room. However, this year taught me all about walking my walk and talking my talk. As I share with others, difficult times are a great opportunity for growth and life lessons. We can either choose to extract those lessons or move on – waiting for the lesson to reappear in a different form (and incurring more pain).
This year, I chose to look and see what all the pain had to offer me. What I discovered was that 2014 was my year! If I hadn’t experienced difficulty this year (and being open to see the lessons), I would never have discovered that the thing that held me back the most – that feeling of being powerless - was the key to my finally feeling whole. The goal of our lives is not to push down parts of ourselves, but to embrace all of who we are. I had long rejected feeling powerless and was thus, controlled by it.
The second I was able to receive that lesson, so much for me changed. There was suddenly gratitude where there had been pain and understanding of all the lessons I had missed before. I was able to look at my past year and see far more good than anything else. And even though this may sound hokey for some – the reality is that when we step into our pain and look at it that is what is possible for all of us. We can take the lessons and shift our perspective because the pain we went through has purpose – it is there to take us to our next level. We no longer have to be weighed down by labels of good or bad because we know that there is always something positive to take away, even from our darkest hour.
For me, my lesson this year was to lean fully into powerless so that I could discover my true power. It leaves me filled with gratitude for all that 2014 brought. I also have shifted what I expect for 2015. No longer do I wish for the freedom from pain, but simply the grace to be open to whatever comes. That doesn’t mean I will stop doing the things I need to make the next year the best year ever, it just means being open to having an amazing year, no matter what may come my way.
As you look back on your year this week, rather than close the book on anything “bad” that occurred, I invite you to reflect back with gratitude. What were the lessons of 2014? How can you use each dark moment to make your next year even bigger? If you journal, now putting down on paper all the life lessons can help you look back as a reminder of the growth you had. Appreciate all that came and I wish you the grace to live an even more open 2015!