JOY: Focus On What Went Right This Year

Every year, I have a ritual that I love. At the end of each year, I sit down with myself and take an inventory to celebrate what I call, “The Wins.”

We all tend to spend way too many moments throughout the year focusing on what we “did wrong,” where we “fell short,” on what we “didn’t get,” or what “didn’t happen,” or what “could have gone better” or what crushing “disappointments” we still have in ourselves, and seemingly “always will.”

We all tend to really suck at ever slowing down enough to really take in what has gone right. Me? I started a different New Years Tradition several years ago. Every time around this time of year, I sit down, focus my mind on what I did in the past year that I’m proud of.  I let the images of the things that “went right” in my life, however large or small, to now enter my mind.

I imagine the moments that I am proud of: when I spoke my truth, how I handled a situation that I felt was consistent with the values I hold or perhaps the people and inconsistencies I let go of in favor of being more congruent with both myself and them.

It could be something as small as I remembered to stop all my incessant mental chatter long enough to really notice how one single flower was beaming it’s love out into the world, just by having the courage to grow up through a crack in the sidewalk.

In this end of the year “Celebrating The Wins” meditation, I close my eyes and let the visions and memories of those things I did right during the past year  dance in my imagination: the moment, the sights and smells and the feelings I can remember that came with those glorious moments of “rightness” in my world, however fleeting they may have been in what might have otherwise, sometimes, been a truly sucky year.

I spend at least 20 seconds on each positive memory. After I have fully acknowledged and celebrated it, I reach my hand around to my back and say the words, “Good. Job. Me.” Then I move on to the next good memory until I can’t think of anything else to celebrate.

When I first started this practice, I could only come up with, maybe one or two good moments to celebrate. In an entire year. I noticed how I came down on myself as being stupid and a pathetic for not being able to come up with more positive examples in my life from an entire year.. I came down on myself as being a pathetic example of a positive awareness. I called myself  a “fraud,” a “failure” a “stupid idiot.” But then suddenly I caught it. There I was focused on what I considered the “bad things” about myself.

That year, I told myself that this was OK. I told myself, the more I practiced being congruent with myself, the more loving things I said to myself, the more good I looked for, the more good moments I would surely have.

What We Focus On Expands

One thing I have learned from this exercise is that what I focus on expands. It used to be my focus was on all the shit and guess what? The shit in my life expanded.

I was focused on how angry I felt all the time and guess what? I saw a shitload of things to be angry about.

I focused on how frustrated I felt all the time that things weren’t going the way I wanted them to and guess what? More shit to be frustrated about kept shown up to be frustrated about.

Now I look for the good, those “little wins” I can celebrate and guess what? I find an abundance of them, everywhere I look.

When I notice and focus on my gratitude, I find countless opportunities to see and experience more things to be grateful for.

When I focus on accepting what shows up in my life in The Now, guess what?  I am not constantly at war with “what should be” instead of “what is” and as a result I feel more calm and peaceful.

How About You?

How about you? Do you ever pause enough to let in the good in your life? And I mean really ever take in your good, the wonderful quirky things that make you you,  for even 20 seconds? Did you know that 20 seconds is how long it takes to create a new neural pathway, one that resets the default programming in your brain?

As you take inventory, I would love to know what good things you appreciate about yourself this year. What “wins” did you have this year, however infinitesimally small?

Really recall that win in your life, however small and seemingly insignificant. Instead of saying the usual, “you are a piece of shit, you will always be a failure and really, you don’t deserve to breathe” imagine interrupting your internal negative Nellie for a moment and hold on to that image of something that went right in your world and say, “Hey me. Good Job.”

The Celebrate The Win Meditation

Close your eyes, imagine that something that went right for you this year  Breathe in as you imagine it in your mind, saying or imagining saying the words, “I did my best.” Hold on to that imaginative image for just a bit longer as you Breathe out, and say or imagine yourself saying, “Good job, Me.”

Activate and stay in the good feeling memory for just 20 seconds.

Amplify it with the sound, sight, smell, feel of it. Really consider it, take that win in however small, pat yourself on the back and dwell in that good feeling of delight in a moment well lived, for at least 20 seconds.

That’s it! Open your eyes. You’re done. All it took was 20 seconds of your life.

Good job! You just activated a new neural pathway, one you can now build on.

From Me To You:

Every year has some  sucky moments and also wins, big and small, for each and every one of us. But for now, let’s all take in what went right this year and build ourselves up from there.

What went right for you this past year? Please share some of your “wins” in the comments below.

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