Today is the final day of the year. It is often a nostalgic time, a time of reflection and remembrance. It is perhaps one of the most mindful days of the year, where we, almost instinctively, look back upon the past 365 days. We naturally relive the events that changed us, people who have enriched us, life milestones that molded our journey, good times that made us laugh, and the sorrows that reminded us of how grateful we are for the things we have.
But why do we behave this way, today of all days? Yes, it is the end of the year, an event that all humanity shares. Perhaps it is because we are born, we live and that we one day will die, that at the end of something significant we feel we must process our experiences, thoughts and feelings. To learn, take stock in what we have, and to remind ourselves we are traveling towards a destination. It is an exercise that can empower individual growth, should we take the time.
So why do this once a year?
It is a powerful time for awareness. It creates an invigoration…an energy…to learn from the past year, and to improve our lifestyle, and deepen our life experiences for the year to come. But a positive or a negative force can drive this energy.
When reflecting, if we are consumed by negative energy, we are consumed by regret. Regret is a mental “no-win” scenario…something that I believe is a paradox, as there is no such thing as “no-win,” only something we can learn from. But that should not negate how a person feels when they are consumed with this negative energy. Regret is when all expected outcomes from an experience is undesired by someone, yet all outcomes are also preferred. It is a “damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t” conflict. I knew a person once, who, was in love, but also had to move away from her love to attend medical school. When reflecting she realized that she had strong doubts for the person she was in love with, but also, hesitation if her future to become a doctor was right for her. Either choice with that mindset would cause her regret, for in either scenario she would wonder, “what if,” she had done something differently, and how her life may be. She kept on playing out possible outcomes, weighing the advantages and disadvantages. She felt that better understanding the decision would help her avoid regret. Her failure was not that she didn’t understand her decision. Her failure was that she didn’t understand herself. When you are aware of who you are, your core values, what characteristics that define you, you are then empowered to make the decisions that are right for you.
When reflecting, if we are consumed with positive energy, we honor the past. We may honor with a celebration…jubilation of a powerful event that altered your way of being. We may honor with a smile, content with the experience and the impact it had. We may also honor with a heavy heart, by mourning, respectfully, someone or something that was dear to us and is now lost. But we must remember that our mind is like a closet where we store our memories. It is a calming to reflect on the contents of that closet, and to visit it, sometimes. But we should not honor like a hoarder, who cannot let go of his past possessions, and cause his closet to be overrun. And thus in the moment we are distracted with clutter.
So now, on the final day of the year, with positive energy surrounding you, what do you see when you look into your clean closet? Look deep into that closet, beyond this year, to the very beginning of your memory. What do you see?
…What is your symbol of nostalgia?
What is your symbol in remembrance of a time that can never be returned to, but also never forgotten? What is your symbol to help you mute out the anxiety of events to come, or worries of events past? A symbol that when you think of it allows you to return to a calm that you had in that moment. Take your time and think of yours, for it can be a powerful tool to shield you from gale-force winds when storms have shook your ability to be mindful or aware. If powerful enough, it can even quell the storms and lead you to calm skies.
I would like to share my symbol of nostalgia with you. It is a raggedly black-and-white stuffed animal…a cat. Her name is Wow, since when I was a child I could not pronounce, “Meow,” as cats do. As a little kid, the toy and I were inseparable. It reminds me of a time where there were no worries, only the possibility of an infinite world, and the curiosity that drove me to explore it.
May your reflections on this day bring you calm, may what you honor bring you comfort, and your symbol of nostalgia give you peace.