I can’t believe how fast this year has gone. My wife was saying the other day that it seemed like yesterday we were celebrating Christmas, and now we are about to celebrate it again. I enjoy this time of the season for various reasons; one being it is a time of endings and beginnings. A year comes to an end, and a new year begins.
Now, I am not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. These resolutions usually set people up for failure because they usually include sudden lifestyle changes that are next to impossible to maintain. For the most part, the goals and aspirations of people, although good, tend to end in disappointment, guilt and a feeling of maybe next year I will succeed.
However, because of the transition from one year into another, it is a natural place to reflect, give thought and let it be a place for change. For someone with a chronic illness, it can be extremely beneficial if used properly. It can cause a renewed focus, energy and enthusiasm for life. It is easy when dealing with illness to let the disease to become the focal point of our existence, and because of that we often miss much of what life has to offer. This season of New Beginnings is a time to recapture that.
How do we do it? First off, throw all the resolutions out the window and forget about them. Don’t set yourself up for failure; rather let’s put get into a position to succeed. Here is the first of a couple different steps I want to share in order to do this. You can use over these over the month of December. In fact, they are great to repeat and use throughout the year.
REFLECT – Take the time to look back at this last year and reflect on the goodness of the year. Remember the blessings you have received over the last 12 months. Think about the moments of happiness as well as times with family and friends. Remember key moments that brought joy, pleasure and filled your life with satisfaction. Recall accomplishments and successes, even if they were small. Look back and take all the positive and good in.
Here is why a time of reflection is essential?
First it fills our life with gratitude and thanksgiving. The fact is, when someone struggles with an illness, gratitude can be easily pushed to the side because they focus on everything that is wrong. If I let myself, I can easily think about all that I can’t do because of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis that I forget what I can do. The struggles we have are often right there in our face, and therefore, we must consciously remind ourselves of the fantastic parts of our lives. Remember, gratitude and thanksgiving are part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle during unhealthy or hard times. It is extremely difficult to stay bitter when filled with gratitude. Being thankful creates an atmosphere of strength and joy.
It allows us to soak in and relive those moments we think about. As we re-experience those times through our memory, they provide an emotional lift. This can be critical for someone coping with chronic pain and illness. Reliving the past allows us to use those moments to give us a boost in the present. This spark of happy and joyful emotion is advantageous for our mind and our body. Have you ever sat with a grandparent or someone older and watched and listened as they told stories from their youth? Have you ever noticed how they almost light up and appear to be filled with energy as they remember those times. This is what reflecting on the past does. It strengthens us at the present moment, and it is a possible spring board of inspiration for the future. There are some days when getting motivated can be difficult. I have found as I reflect on the goodness or accomplishments of the past, there comes an inner strength and desire to continue to move forward. I think, if I could do that then, I can do that today.
So let me encourage you to take time over the next few weeks to reflect on this last year. Sit down, reflect, write down, share with someone and re-experience the joys of 2011. I would love to hear from you some of those thoughts in the comments section below.
Published On: December 15, 2011