What Makes a Year “Good”?

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2018 is almost over. Though many parts of this year were challenging, I believe it was a good year. But this makes me wonder? What makes a year “good”?

I started to write out a list of the things about 2018 that I really enjoyed and meant the most to me. Obviously, time with family and friends ranked high on that list but that is something that is going to be part of any good year for the rest of my life. As I went further down the list, I considered that I was successful on most of my 2018 resolutions, which helped me recommit to or establish positive habits. I considered that I made time to write more and in a new way as a 2018 Writer in Residence for Ms. JD. I also considered that I made time to rest by going on my first (and second which I am heading to just after finishing this blog post) meditation retreats.

Then I had it. The thing that most of these items have in common is that they were all new experiences. In other words, the thing that made 2018 “good” despite all the scary, bad, and not good parts that come with most years is that I tried a lot of new things. Before 2018, I was generally open to trying new things. All things being equal, I would usually try a new option presented to me over a familiar one. But, I don’t know that I always planned for and sought out new experiences as much as I could have. For example, I had never done New Years resolutions before but when I committed to some in 2018 I found that it forced me to try new ways of doing things that I actually liked better, such as eating meatless one day a week and learning a list of new vegetarian recipes.

In other words, my life in 2018 helped me to see that I should not just welcome new experiences but plan for them and seek them out. While there is always satisfaction in a task well-done, a new experience can be even more rewarding because it forces you to grow in the process. With new experiences, you have to notice things you never noticed before, you have to learn new skills, and you have to react in ways you didn’t expect. To put it another way, new experiences get you out of autopilot and force you to fully engage with life.

Fortunately, I have a new year coming and a whole bunch of new goals to set and things to try along with it. Happy New Year! Let’s make 2019 good.

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