By Mary O’Brien, M.D.
Has your home returned to a relative state of post-holiday normality? I’m almost there. The boxes and bags and bows and ribbons have been put away until next year. The “thank you” notes are in the mail. And my kitchen table has been restored to an acceptable state of neatness.
Many people will start to focus on new year’s resolutions now, knowing full well the resolutions are unlikely to last. I have a different tradition at the end of December. It goes back quite a few years. In a reflective state of blissful solitude, I write down my own little “year in review.” It takes some time, thought, and effort, but it’s an exercise that can generate some profound insights.
- What were the best or most positive events of 2017 — personally, nationally, and globally?
- What were the worst or most tragic events of 2017 — personally, nationally, and globally? How did I cope or respond?
- What event or situation made me feel most grateful?
- What was the most beautiful, unusual, or remarkable sight I saw in 2017? (Personally, it would be difficult to top the perfect, unobstructed view of the total solar eclipse I had from my own backyard in August 2017.)
- What was the biggest mistake I made in 2017? This one can be tough and sobering.
- What was the most important lesson I learned in 2017? It’s often related to the biggest mistake I made.
- What experience or moment touched me the most deeply?
- What was the most noble, courageous, or generous thing I did in the past year? Coming up short on this one is not a good sign.
- And finally, what could I do in 2018 to become a better person — physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?
The little, personal “year in review” may not be as fascinating as a list of the year’s top news stories, viral videos, or celebrities who have passed. It will, however, become profoundly revealing to you 10 or 20 years from now.
Have a happy new year.