It’s that time of year again — time to wrap up one planetary rotation and prepare for the next. Journalers everywhere are setting up their January spreads, reviewing their year, and strategizing for the future.
Well, except me. I admire the year-end creativity, but personally never have my act together enough to do all the things. It’s all in my head, but not on paper. Except one thing… the highlights.
It’s almost trendy these days to head into the new year by taking a swing at the year that just happened. Tweets along the lines of: “Won’t miss you 2019… so ready for 2020!” and “There’s only a week left in 2019 and all I can say is good riddance!” and “Whew, made it through 2019!” abound.
And sure, perhaps some negative things have happened in the last twelve months. Maybe a lot of things. Maybe your year was so bad, it deserves a good riddance. And yet, what do we gain when we say this? Are we overlooking the positive side?
Studies have shown that our memories are malleable — just by accessing a memory, we change it, telling a story in our minds about what happened. So when you favor a more cynical approach to remembering the past year, you can actually wind up strengthening those memories, giving them more weight than the other things which may have happened. Even if this year marked the death of a loved one, or excruciating depression, or even just one thing after another not going as planned... I am willing to bet that a lot of good went down too. Shining moments worthy of preservation.
Which is why a highlights list is the one year-end journaling I don’t skip. Seeing the best parts of my year laid out before me is, without a doubt, my favorite way to practice gratitude. I am always surprised at how much there is, and how full my life feels when I see them all lined up.… all those things happened, but somehow it isn’t until I write them down in one place that I can really appreciate them.
If you keep a planner or diary, flip back through the year to jog your memory. Try scrolling through photos or facebook updates to remember the most important moments, and write them down. Think back on all the things you did this year, and which ones made your heart quicken and your stomach do flips.
For me, those moments include making new friends, adopting a cat, and taking a trip we’ve talked about for years… those are the things I want to remember this year for. What about you?
And so… so long 2019, you will be missed. You’ll be thought of fondly, and next year, well, I hope it’s even better.