It’s true. I still don’t have it all figured out, folks. Turns out I am a life long learner, and these are the life lessons I learned in 2016.
As the year draws to a close, I’ve been looking back in order to assess my growth. I have a lot more work to do on myself, my anger can be channeled into productive action, and the only limitations I have are the ones I place on myself. These are a few of the most important life lessons I learned this year.
Life Lesson #1: My Self-Improvement Is Not Done
You’d think, a few years into this Up With Me! mission, I’d have more of my kinks worked out. Far, far from it. There is (way) more growing to do and (much more) room for continued improvement. Here are some of my target areas for 2017.
- Being less self-righteous. This is an area I struggle with, and it has manifested in ways I didn’t expect. For all my bleeding-heart liberalism, I can be fairly closed-minded to people who aren’t like me and don’t espouse the same philosophies as me. It is way past time to get off my moral high horse and do more work on acceptance and open-mindedness.
- Nurturing the most important relationships in my life. A big light bulb moment for me was when I realized that the relationships I supposedly value most (those with my children and my husband) are the ones I neglect the most. I am guilty of taking these relationships for granted, and, as a result, I don’t work very hard on being the best mom or the best spouse that I can be. I’ve been coasting, and I need to put more effort into nurturing these bonds.
- Patience with everyone, myself included. I am pretty quick to get annoyed or frustrated, particularly with those people I just mentioned above. I get impatient when I don’t get what I want, when I want it. When ego comes first, a sense of peace doesn’t come at all. Impatience is a vicious cycle, because the more impatient you get, the more annoyed and frustrated you get. Everyone loses.
Life Lesson #2: My Anger Can Be Harnessed for Good
I didn’t feel any warm fuzzies post-election. Nor did I have moments of depression and despondency. I was angry. That may sound counter-intuitive to my desire to cultivate a zen state (and work on my being less self-righteous, more nurturing, and more patient), but getting pissed off made me want to effect change. It made me want to be more vocal and active, not just in becoming the best person I can be but also in creating the best world to live in, for myself and for everyone.
I’m still figuring out how to channel my energy for good, but I’ve already gotten a bit more involved politically and have begun volunteering for organizations I support and the interests of which I believe will be subject to attack under the new administration. Yes, I am channeling negative energy (anger) into positive change. You can’t keep a good woman down.
Life Lesson #3: My Only Limitations are Self-Imposed
I can’t be the President (too many skeletons in the closet). I can’t be a world-class athlete (too old; it takes me days to recover from a long run these days). But, besides these two things, which I never aspired to anyway, there’s nothing I can’t do. I only limit myself by thinking I’m not capable. But, if I’m being honest, the words “I can’t” really mean, “I’m scared” or “I don’t know how.” In reality, I am totally capable.
One thing this journey has taught me is that I can do anything I want to do, and I can be anything I want to be. I can be healthy. I can be happy. I can be a writer. I can be things I never thought were possible for me. I’ve learned that it’s all about the choices I make and the effort I give to those choices. The only limits in my life are the ones I put up.
This is what I learned in 2016. I’d love to hear from you about what life lessons you learned this year. On that note, here’s to a marvelous 2017. May we all experience growth and wisdom.