Before We Begin 2019...
Good afternoon Dear Reader,
I hope you had a magical holiday and a Merry Christmas! This past week I’ve been resting and relaxing up North (yes, even further North than where I live LOL.) I took some time off from writing, but I could NOT forget to write the Sunday Series. We are on a roll!
As we approach the finale of 2018, I’m sure you’ve peeked at some other blog posts or articles, most of which probably focused on reflection, goal setting, and transformation.
Today I want to do something a little different; let’s talk about the current moment.
What are some things that you are going through and what are you struggling with? What are the blessings you’re looking forward to? Maybe you’re experiencing a painful situation that you think may never improve; or maybe you’re looking forward to a new change in your life that could bring the best joy.
Sometimes it’s impossible to get excited for the New Year because you think you could not possibly ever feel joy again. Or maybe you're on the opposite end of the spectrum and feel that this New Year will transform your life in ways you could not even imagine!
To dig deep into this topic, I want to share a really fantastic psychology study I read this last week about human tendency and the will to survive.
The researchers surveyed two groups of people: the first had recently won the lottery, and the second group had recently become paralyzed. They posed the following question to both groups: “how do you feel about your life change right now?”
Of course, those who had won the lottery exclaimed that they were the happiest they had ever been and that life was perfect! And on the opposite side, those who had been paralyzed were devastated about their lives and were (rightfully) distraught.
A year later, the researchers surveyed both groups a second time, positing the same question; “how do you feel about your life change right now?”
Surprisingly, each group, lottery winner or paraplegic, responded with the same average answer: “I feel neutral.”
The researchers concluded that regardless of what happens in a person’s life, positive or negative, humans have a tendency to return to a state of neutrality. Lottery winners experience a high that inevitably falls back to neutrality in the same way that paraplegics experience serious despair that (on average) returns to neutrality as well.
I love this study because we can take two incredible lessons from it:
1. WE All GET “USED” TO GOOD THINGS
No matter what good things happen to you, you will “get used” to them.
Basically, your wildest dreams coming true will not leave you in a state of permanent joy. That new boob or Botox job isn’t going to make you happier a year from now. Neither will your dream wedding, your dream vacation, or your dream job.
Now I’m not saying that we should not reach for our dreams, but it’s important to remember that our wildest dreams are not the answer to our happiness.
This is encouraging to me because sometimes I think that a bigger house, a new kitchen, skinnier thighs, or a fancier wardrobe will truly make me happy. But then I am reminded of this study and I remember that a year from now, I will just have a whole new list of problems in my life.
Our wildest dreams, even winning the lottery, will inevitably just be part of our life that we become used to.
2. TIME ACTUALLY DOES HEAL SOME WOUNDS
The second lesson I take from this study is that whatever difficult thing you are experiencing right now: broken relationships, health problems, financial difficulties, or job loss, you can and most likely WILL get “used” to these situations within a year.
Your mind, soul, and heart are naturally yearning to return to a state of neutrality, and time may actually bring you towards that healing.
Now this is not a guarantee, but I DO know that time allows you to process what has happened to you, and work through a lot of the grieving process. Time doesn’t always “fix” things, but it does help you acclimate to change.
The most painful thing, even losing our legs, will ALSO inevitably become part of our life that we get used to. Humans have a will to survive and life is what you make of it.
FOR THE NEW YEAR
So this year, I encourage you Dear Reader to take the temperature of your life.
Maybe some difficult situations have happened and you’re feeling like there is no end in sight. Maybe you have just had the best thing you could ever imagine in your life.
Write down how you feel about that breakup or tough problem you are going through. Write down how ecstatic you are about the new job or new boyfriend. Write down your thankfulness and write down your pain. Whatever you feel, just record it.
One year from now, pull out that list and reflect on your writings. You may be surprised to see how much you have healed or how much you have forgotten about the blessings in your life. Maybe you feel neutral about your new marriage: take time to be thankful!
Likewise, when you realize how neutral you feel about that painful circumstance from 2018, take time to be thankful for the healing you’ve experienced. Then, take time to pause and recognize all of the growth and change you’ve experienced.
The act of giving thanks and recognizing the changes in your life is healing, encouraging, and life giving. Reader, remember that you and your life circumstances are going to change in 2019. Catalog your feelings and remind yourself of how far you have come.
Remember that your wildest dreams will not give you lasting happiness. Remember that terrible things will ALSO not give you lasting pain. Humans have a tendency to accept, adapt, and at the very least, attempt to enjoy our lives.
You will be okay.