I will never forget the time I logged onto Facebook at the end of December a couple years ago, and I saw that one of my college friends wrote a very long, well-worded post about his past year. He explained in great detail every outstanding and amazing thing that happened. Reading all those accomplishments would make almost anyone feel a little in awe of how great it all was. He had traveled a lot, taken great strides in his career, bought a big house, and met the love of his life. And, because of these achievements, it was "a good year."
Let’s be honest, though—don’t we sometimes measure our year by the same types of thing?
It’s not entirely our fault, though. Our culture begs us to stop every year at the end of December and judge our year by the sum of our promotions, relationship milestones, stamps in our passports, and the items we bought in the last 12 months.
So, why do we measure our year by these things? Maybe because we don’t know what else to do.
It’s always nice when our year goes our way. It’s easy to feel peaceful about everything when that happens. So, what happens when our year doesn’t go our way? Maybe this was the year we couldn't have a baby or maybe we even got laid off. Maybe something really hard happened in our family. We feel shame and defeat. The only peace we experience with ourselves is the peace of shutting the door on “that awful year.”
This is the problem with defining ourselves by what we do or what happens to us—instead of the kind of person we are to the world. It's a problem because when unfavorable or mundane things happen to us, that are sometimes even beyond our control, we set ourselves up to feel insignificant.
Of course we should be proud of our accomplishments each and every year, but we need to stop letting those things speak so much into our personal worth.
Friends, it’s time to stop measuring our past years by the material things we acquire and the notable events that happen to us. Instead, let's take a look at ourselves from within and celebrate our personal disposition towards the things that really matter in life. Let's praise ourselves for our good attitude when times were rough, our good work ethic when we felt like we were getting nowhere, our service towards others when we didn't feel like helping anyone, and most importantly, our gratitude for the things we do have instead of the things we don't.
Remember, the world will never become a better place by our ability to collect achievements. It will become a better place though if we selflessly and habitually work towards becoming the best person we are capable of being. If we work on this throughout the years to come, the more peaceful we will find ourselves this time of year—no matter what happens to us.
From all of us at Families of Character, we wish you a Happy New Year!