Seems to me that 2015 was a lot like 1992.
In her annual Christmas address that year, Queen Elizabeth declared 1992 was her “annus horribilis”. The Queen had an abundance of reasons to think that 1992 was a horrible year – everything from a massive fire at Windsor Castle to Charles and Diana’s marriage imploding to Princess Anne divorcing to an unfortunate incident captured by paparazzi involving Sarah Ferguson and toe sucking not by her husband.
This year was not great for me either. It didn’t involve fires or divorces or questionable judgment. It did have what seemed like a never-ending stream of challenges including death and illness and a flooded basement. It seemed like life at every turn was going sideways. As soon as one thing was resolved, another challenge popped up to take its place.
I even started referring to this as my personal annus horribilis.
That was until one day when I listened to myself talking and knew it was time to stop.
You see, the consequence of labelling things is that our focus and attention follow that label. When we list our litany of complaints, of course it feels like the universe is conspiring against us. The more we focus on the negative, the more negative there is to focus on. Without even noticing we slip on the crown and become the queen of misery.
We actually do become seduced by this dark side. That’s because there is a little payoff for all of that complaining. Our ego likes it when other people say, “Poor you.”
Yes poor me.
What really do I have to complain about?
Were there challenges this year? You bet. But not nearly the challenges other people are facing. I’m not suggesting that we need to ignore or step over problems we might encounter; we simply don’t have to let them define us.
When we focus on what is not working, we do a disservice to everything that actually is working. Looking back there was a lot of great stuff in 2015 – time spent hiking in Kauai, a fun filled family trip to Vegas, my husband’s retirement. All of the challenges we faced also contained opportunities. Being sick more this year than I can remember reinforced the importance of getting back to basics. A flooded basement is a fast track to decluttering.
More importantly, when we lead with complaints, we also miss the moments of true wonder. As I look out my window right now, a dozen little birds are perched in the mountain ash tree and the sun is shining on the snow covered branches of the spruce. In any moment life is pretty darn good.
In hindsight 2015 was an annus mirabilis. In fact every year is a wonderful year when you think about it the right way.
Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, like, share, tweet and/or pin this article.
What was wonderful about your year?
p.s. This article was first published in my community blog Life Goes On for the St. Albert Gazette.