When viewed in this way, it allows me to put things into perspective.
Most people don’t keep journals, so in December trying to remember how their year went is difficult. If they had a job setback in the fall, they lose site of the fact that they had an incredible vacation in the mountains in the spring and found a long lost friend during the summer.
My bookshelf has a special section for my leather-bound journals that date back to the 1970s. They are filled with life experiences I can revisit and relive any time I choose.
At the end of each year, I look back over my journal to see where I’ve been, who I’ve seen, what I’ve eaten, the victories I’ve celebrated, things that made me laugh and also see what lessons the losses can teach me.
I’m often surprised at how much I’ve done, and left undone. It’s easy to beat myself up when I dwell on the latter too much.
My wife Jilda and I do a vision board each January and we begin collecting pictures for our board in December.
A vision board is a piece of thick poster board with pictures clipped from newspapers, magazines and other sources. They depict things we want in our life for the coming year.
Our friends figure big on our boards. Mine is filled with group photos with our smiling-faced friends. I’m not sure it’s possible to spend too much time with your true friends.
I have pictures of a CD, of famous music producers, and a gold record hanging on a wall. Each morning when I look at the board, I imagine how great it would feel when we have one of those hanging on our wall.
We didn’t meet a famous producer this year, and we don’t have that gold record on the wall yet, but we recorded our first CD as a duo. As the old joke goes, you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.
My vision board also has a picture of a cruise ship. In the 40 years we’ve been married, we’d never taken a cruise until this year.
A vision board keeps the things I want fresh in my mind, and like most people, I tend to do the things I think about.
Some people I’ve shared this idea with call it a bunch of hooey. I thought about the naysayers this past spring as I basked in the warm sunshine with a tropical breeze blowing on my face as I lounged on the bow of a ship in the gulf, sipping on a frou-frou drink with a colorful umbrella in it.
Vision boards might be a bunch of hooey, but they work for us.
December is not a month of reflection for everyone. As I sit here writing today, I thought of people who’d rather rip December right off the calendar and start the New Year with a clean slate.
There are many reasons for this. Stress over finances, or family gatherings that for some, are more painful than a stone bruise.
I think that another reason is that when people suffer loss in December, the holidays tend to amplify the sadness.
I know first hand that when you dwell on sadness, the burden weighs more during the holidays.
But The Good Lord, for the most part is an excellent accountant and, over the long haul, the balance sheet will show, if judged by an impartial witness, that the good things in life usually outweigh the bad.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book “Life Happens” is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.