All I’ve been hearing for the last month or so is how terrible 2016 was.
Between international wars, humanitarian crises, shocking political events, deaths of pop culture icons, natural disasters, and disgusting displays of unnecessary violence, sometimes it seems like the tragedies will never end. One might actually believe that 2016 was “a year from hell” considering the amount of hate, ignorance, fear and prejudice that fuels people’s words and actions these days.
But war, death, and sorrow have occurred every single year since time began, and will continue to occur every year in the future. Suffering can make life seem bleak and hopeless, causing people to turn to anger and violence as an outlet for the pain. Succumbing to these negative emotions only intensifies suffering by allowing it to spread like the plague and infect society’s outlook on life as a whole.
Pain is inevitable, but the power to overcome it lies in the strength of the mind. 2016 looks like an awful year if you only consider the tragedies that stole the news headlines every day. But if you decide to cherish the joys that occurred in your own life on a daily basis, you’ll find that 2016 probably had an abundance of positive moments that you should be thankful for. Every time you hugged a relative, made a delicious meal, discovered your new favorite song, kissed an animal, took a beautiful photo, laughed with a friend, read an inspiring story or felt the sun on your face, you experienced a joy that some people are not fortunate enough to have. Every single day has the potential to be incredible if you approach it with the right attitude, and so does every single year.
Despite all the large-scale disasters that threatened to break people’s spirits this year, I personally feel that 2016 was the best year of my life. I made wonderful new friends, reconnected with old friends, graduated from college, explored gorgeous new cities, and witnessed breathtaking natural scenery. I’ve slept in 45 different beds (yes I counted hehe), taken 29 flights, and worked 7 different jobs. I feel so lucky to have had so many unforgettable adventures this year, and I am forever thankful to all the people who stood by my side during these times. Everyone including family members, childhood friends, coworkers, and even all the random people I hung out with in hostels or on bus rides; every person I met this year has a special place in my memory and helped make each experience unique.
But I know that for many people, 2016 brought unfortunate circumstances that caused unbearable pain. Sadness can crush the soul, but when the wounds of a tragedy start to heal, the reappearance of happiness is that much more valuable. The only remedy for inevitable sadness is to let life’s simple pleasures infuse your body with hope and laughter, and never miss an opportunity to feel happiness. Imagine the activities that always plaster a smile on your face, and then make time to do them. Cherish your loved ones with every fiber of your being, and remind them how much you appreciate them. Take care of your body, your spirit, and the Earth. Live compassionately. Try to avoid holding grudges, forgive any past mistakes and practice patience. Respect every single being, accept that their beliefs, lifestyles and cultures may be different from your own, and try to understand and learn from foreign ideas. Spread positive energy. Life is overflowing with unfathomable beauty, and it would be a shame if it went unnoticed.