Last weekend I made some very conscious and considered decisions about how I want to live and survive in this new decade. 2008 was one of the best years of my life if not THE best, followed by 2009 which all but shredded all of that personal progress. Or so it would superficially seem.
One of the decisions I made was to listen to the advice of one of the dearest people in my life and return to writing in some form, a hobby that has always been therapeutic to me and which always seems to purge those inner demons that otherwise trip me up and ruin my best efforts at all I wish to accomplish. To begin this new journey, take a quick look at the sidebar to the right, at the little blurb about me and what I intend to do here. I make a brief but hopefully punctuated statement about the alleys and potholes of life being necessary to recognize and appreciate the goodness of the blessings which we receive each and every day. Following that line of thought, 2008 was indeed a grand year. 2009 was not-so-stellar, but it did teach me a few very important things:
1) Don't get lazy. I became too content with the way life was in 2008, and I took it for granted that rose-tinted horizons and golden paths were all that awaited me ahead. Oops. Truth be told, happiness takes work - it takes commitment, dedication, reflection, planning, and appreciation. If you aren't understanding what you have and watching where you are going, you are bound to crash and lose it all.
2) Take time for others. Never think your happiness exists inside of a bubble. The actions of those who surround you day after day can have just as much effect on your happiness as the decisions made by you. Don't be afraid to feel others' hurts and to empathize with others who may not have it quite as good as you do. Don't be so blinded by your own happiness that you forget to nurture others even as you enjoy your own blessings.
3) Happiness isn't free. Often your happiness comes only after the heartbreak of another. No, this isn't fair and it isn't humane, but it isn't necessarily a reflection on your morality either. It is simply life at its worst. The trick is to be careful that you are not unnecessarily causing pain for others. No one else will look out for your happiness if you don't and you will never make another happy if you aren't happy within, so take what you need and nothing more. You know you have crossed the line of scruples and good conscience when you hurt others for amusement.
4) Be thankful. It is when happiness is taken for granted that it seems to slip away in the dark of night, returning only after a long, arduous, dangerous journey. Take time to recognize and appreciate the things that make your life full: family, friends, careers, hobbies, wealth, whatever, or, feeling unloved, unappreciated, and thus unnecessary, they may leave you. If you don't take notice and appreciate them, someone else will.
5) Listen to others and trust yourself. Once you have surrounded yourself with people you love and trust, it often becomes all too easy to rely on their perspectives alone when making the difficult choices in life. Often others in your life are correct and they see better than you what direction you should next travel. Yet if you take a step back and judge your situation for yourself, often you will also make the choice that is right for you. No one else knows best what you are capable of; no one but those involved gets a full grasp of the situation at hand. They key is to balance the two: take into consideration the well-intended perspectives of others as you also listen to your heart and decide just what you are willing and not willing to do next. Then do what is right for you, and do it with no regrets, no turning back, and no second guessing. Trust your own gut-instinct and let it run wild. Even if it fails you this time around, never will you ask, "What if . . .?" (I still struggle with this one.)
6) Happiness is not a right. The "pursuit of happiness" is a right, but happiness itself, not so much. Happiness is not a constant, it needs a rest from time to time, but it will not entirely leave you if you practice diligence, hard work, and keep faith when it does take its unexpected vacations from your life. If you don't trust that it can and will return, you won't make the steps necessary to travel down its path once again. Keep the faith - faith in life, faith in family and friends, faith in humanity in general, and most of all, faith in yourself to see this journey through regardless of how dark it may become. Have faith that the light will always shine once again.
With all of that said, I have faith that I have learned the necessary lessons from 2009, the lessons I was intended to learn before I could continue on in life, and 2010 is going to reward this faith and hope I still possess. I made some changes in my life as of Monday, January 11, 2010, and I have seen them through thus far. All I can do is take it step-by-step, day-by-day, and have faith that I am heading in the direction I promised to myself. And I am okay with that. Coming from a self-proclaimed control freak, that alone is a huge resolution worth some congratulations.
And another resolution completed tonight: the writer's block that has existed within for almost 8 months has been brought to an end. Today has been a fabulous day indeed. :)