As 2014 came to a close, I was heading into the new year with just one resolution: Stop being the most miserable person I know. The endgame was happiness, that much was obvious. However, figuring out how to get from point A to point B wasn’t quite as clear. Once again, I found myself hanging around on Facebook one evening when I came across what I thought was a cool idea. The geniuses at Buzzfeed suggested an alternative to the standard New Year’s Resolutions game: New Year Rememberlutions. The idea is simple: rather than focusing on what needs fixing or changing in the upcoming year (or the things you failed to fix or change the previous year), you celebrate the accomplishments and awesome moments that happened that year. When something fantastic happens, you make a note of it and put said note in the jar or container of your choosing. (You can check out the original article here.)
This nerd loves taking notes and writing things down, so this was right up my alley. I marched my cheap ass over to the Dollar Store, bought a marker and a vase, scribbled a mildly inspirational quote on it, and set it on a shelf. And I’ll be honest. I kind of expected this to go the way of most of my New Year Resolutions: I’d keep it up for a couple of weeks, a month tops, before abandoning it completely. But unlike in years past with other resolutions, I stayed on top of this one. When I would get home from a trip or a night out with friends, I would make a point to sit down and jot something down on a post-it and put it in the jar. I was off to a good start. By the end of winter, my little vase was already a third of the way full.
I was starting to develop a habit. Not just a habit of writing a note at the end of a good day, but a habit of actually paying attention to and focusing on the good. With love from my new bestie yoga, I started getting better at being more present. Sometimes, I would catch myself in a moment. I wasn’t thinking about something else. I wasn’t worrying about thirty other things. I was just there, in that moment, living. Actually experiencing life, not just obsessing and worrying about it. It’s a very particular feeling, one I was not at all used to. I think that might be what people are talking about when they make reference to “feeling alive.” I was into it. I wanted more of it. And I sure as shit wanted to remember it. So after a day or night of great moments, I’d get home, write myself a note and toss it in the jar. And now, days before the new year begins, my dollar vase runneth over. I don’t mind telling you that I’m super excited to sit down and read all of these notes I’ve left for myself (as nerdy as that may sound).
My boss at Sunoco used to always say, “Perception is reality.” And that, my friends, is a true story. It doesn’t matter what is “real.” If you perceive something to be a certain way, good or bad, then that is your reality. That is real for you. If you’ve ever had the distinct displeasure of depression, then you know that part of the problem is that you perceive everything to be terrible, sad, and hopeless. So regardless of what is actually happening, that is how you perceive things to be, and so that is how life is for you. I think that when we come to the end of a year, we tend to paint with broad strokes, seeing an entire year as good or bad. We say things like, “This was a bad year.” When in reality, not every one of those 365 days was completely terrible.
Rememberlutions is my new jam. I want to remember the good times. Scratch that. I need to remember the good times. So that the next time I find myself wandering down the dark rabbit hole of negative thought and sad stories, I will have proof, in my own handwriting, that it’s not dark all of the time.