The end of the year approaches and as we look forward to a break of some kind, (usually well-deserved), and wonder where that year went, it’s a great time to look back and take stock of what we actually did in those last 12 months. What did we achieve? What memories did we make? This brings to mind Dr. Martin Seligman’s description of how to have a healthy relationship with the three time dimensions – the past, the present and the future.
It’s easy to get stuck in the past, ruminating over what went wrong or what we didn’t do, yet we can create some wonderful positivity in our lives if we observe two things – making sure we have let go of any grudges or resentments over things people have done – perceived injustices or hurts, in other words practice forgiveness, and the second thing is to be aware of all the good things that have happened to us – in other words, to express gratitude. We often dwell on the negative things that happen but if we take time to review the last year, we can usually find some good stuff that happened. Make a list of all those things that went well, or that we achieved and give thanks for our good fortune and our accomplishments.
Then we have next year just around the corner. Already we are thinking of what has to be done, what we might do differently; will it be a good year or a bad year? At times it’s easy to get anxious about all we have to do and we can experience some concern about not knowing what the year might hold; yet if we follow Seligman’s advice we will make sure we have some pleasant plans to look forward. Because our relationship with the future should include anticipation of what’s lies ahead. So when we’re planning our work commitments, make sure to slot in those little breaks or special holidays or treats that you can feel warm and excited about! We’re also frequently encouraged to set new goals for the coming year. This can be a great motivator and help reset out direction and compass, if you like, but once again, an important point to remember – when we set goals we often focus on the outcomes. How it will feel when we get whatever it is we’re aiming for. But there’s something called the “progress principle” that we need to remember. It has been shown that although achieving a goal can be satisfying, we get more pleasure and satisfaction from achieving the steps along the way – ie the journey, not the destination. So make sure that the actions you need to take, are structured, maybe challenging, but certainly have some degree of pleasure inherent in them.
And finally, let’s not forget that dimension that is of utmost importance. And that’s right now. With the holiday season upon us, we often have many things to do. And we get caught up in the preparations and task list that we have to accomplish by various deadlines. How many people feel exhausted by the sheer complexity of the holiday? Above all else, we need to remember to enjoy the moment – to practice mindfulness and to savour that time that may be take many forms – enjoying the company of friends and family, having a change in routine and time off work – whatever it is, be sure to focus on right now! Remember the most valuable present we will get, and that we can give to ourselves, is the present!
So on that note, I would like to say a huge Thank You from the team at WCA for all your support over the last year. I would like to share with you the satisfaction of all we have accomplished together in 2016 and wish you all a wonderful holiday time. Finally, to express our excitement over what lies ahead in 2017 and which we hope to share with our students and readers.
Merry Xmas to you all.