Things I Learned in 2017

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learnings‘Tis the season for year end reviews, resolutions for the new year, and the top 10 lists for favorite whatevers. I think it’s necessary to have a time of the year dedicated to review, don’t you? How better is it to learn than from experience!

So, for today’s post, I’m sharing some of the things I learned this year (in no particular order). I thought I already knew some of this, but 2017 was a radical year for introspection. Now I wonder if I really know anything at all!

 learnings

Influencing

What I learned: Don’t get emotional about politics or other events outside my sphere of influence.
This year I really accepted that, if I want the government to support the things I’m interested in, it takes a lot more work than just voting, calling congressmen, and giving money to my favorite lobbying groups. These things already frustrate me and I don’t see myself becoming any happier by pursuing a road of political activism.

What I now tell myself: It’s far more important to expend energy on my family and in my community than to get wound up over what’s going on in national politics. Accept that, sooner or later, the political tide will swing back the other way. Focus on what’s happening in my sphere of influence at this moment because that’s where my energy will have the most impact.

learnings

 Aging

What I learned: I am getting older. I don’t have the same body I had when I was younger; a slowly healing broken ankle and strained shoulder proved it in 2017.

What I now tell myself: Accept that I’ll never have the resiliency or stamina of my younger self. This is still a good body! It’s healthy and functional. I simply need to take better care of it if I want to continue getting good use from it. Be gentle with it: keep eating healthy food, doing the weight lifting and aerobic exercises, and ensuring it’s getting plenty of water and rest. These things are too important to let lax!

learningsLiving

What I learned: The past and the future don’t exist. I can’t reach out and touch either of them. The past is a concept that encapsulates memories of things that we’ve experienced; the future is a concept that enfolds all of the possibilities of what might be. So being caught up in either is a certain road to self-inflicted suffering.

This was such an amazing paradigm shift for me! I can’t begin to express the joy I feel now that I’ve realized this.

What I now tell myself:

I have only this moment.
I can’t change what already happened in other moments.
In this moment, I can create the conditions that will influence what the next moment will be like.
Use this moment wisely.

This has become my mantra. Treasure memories of both the pleasant and the unpleasant, because they are what I am made of right now. Let go of expectations for the future. It will be whatever it becomes because of what I am right now; let go of what it “should” be.

learnings

Dying

What I learned: I am dying. From the moment I was born I began to die. Death is the result of aging. I have limited control over how or when it happens. Having a fear of death is a natural part of being human, but being fixated with the fear is unhealthy.

Everyone knows they are going to die someday. But this year I accepted that it could happen in the next moment, not in some far away future. And I quit worrying about it.

What I now tell myself: Accept that death is going to happen no matter what I do or think. My body will be cremated and all of the atoms that were in it will become part of something else: soil, water, air, bacteria, plants, animals, and maybe other humans. My brain, which is designed for survival, wants to expend a great amount of energy on making me afraid of dying so that I will do everything I can to extend my life. Don’t let my brain expend too much energy worrying about it. Enjoy this moment; sooner or later they’ll all be gone.

learningsBlogging

What I learned: It’s okay to share personal reflections in my blog. I like sharing the thoughts and ideas that bring me balance and contentment. I also like to read what others are thinking, how they meet and take care of problems, and what they find joyous in life. It’s okay. It doesn’t mean I’m joining the world of tabloid trash. There’s a huge difference between writing interesting transcendental content and deplorable melodrama.

I confess: when I began this blog I worried that my posts would sound like something from a supermarket tabloid. Or I worried that they’d be so blasé I’d wonder why I was wasting my time and money. It took a lot of posting to learn differently.

What I now tell myself: Don’t be afraid to write about things I’m thinking even if others might not understand. Limit  the venting. Accept that readers always have the option to skip over or click away from what I’ve written if they don’t like it. My blog is for expressing a part of myself. It’s a record of who I am at one moment in my life. I will change, and may even feel differently about things in the future. But if I’m not having fun with it, I’m not spending my time wisely.

In addition, thank the blog writers that I enjoy reading. Just like me, they put a lot of themselves into their writing!

Acceptance

These are the some of the things that I learned in 2017. If I had to put one word to my experience of 2017, it would be acceptance.

Thank you to all the readers who have been part of my blogosphere this year. I wish you a very happy and peaceful 2018!

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