by Rev. Joda Collins
Every New Year's Day brings introspection about the past year or years and the next year ahead. This is normal whenever an end meets a beginning. In retrospect most of us realize that our greatest hopes and dreams have not materialized and we face a growing reality that most or many of them probably never will.
If we are not careful, the first of each year can be a time of depression.
Permit me to offer six insights that might help you face the end 2015 with a more positive attitude and the begin 2016 with more cheer. Allow me to make this very personal by writing to you directly. Put "and/or" between each concept.
1. Your expectations were too high in 2015. In some key areas, you expected more from life than life was able to supply. Reevaluate your expectations and you will see that the distance between reasonable hopes and reality is not as great as the distance between your dreams and reality. It is healthy to dream, but do not make too many big dreams try to fit into the mold of reality. They will not because they can not.
2. You repeated too many of the same mistakes you made in 2014 in 2015.
3. You depended on others too much to make you happy. People, including you and me, tend to be self-centered too much of the time. We let ourselves down. We let other people down. Other people let us down. We are people. That is not an excuse for our failures, but it does explain a lot of our failures.
4. You did not devote yourself to something to do in 2015 that was extremely important to accomplish. If we do not have something important to accomplish with our lives, we will waste an entire year, and then another, and then another. If we do that for too many consecutive years that intensifies the reality of a wasted life! Yikes, we should be depressed! What is more depressing than a wasted life when that life is ours?
5. You did not have someone you love to serve and honor more than or at least as much as you love, serve and honor yourself. Real significance in life comes when we have, at least, one other person we consider equally or more valuable than ourselves and devote a large portion of ourselves to their welfare and progress.
6. You did not fill your mind and heart with something to look forward to every day. By that I do not mean that the fulfillment is daily, but your days should be filled with hope for the future. For the Christian, that is relatively easy as we contemplate seeing Jesus, our family and friends gone on before (as well as those who will follow us), and our eternal home. I am not sure what non-Christians do to fill their heart with day-to-day joy by looking forward to something great. I have been a Christian since age nine, so I have never had to seek beyond Jesus for that great hope in my life. However, if you are not a Christian, find something to look forward to.
Now that you know the source of your depression, turn 2016 into a time of celebration by doing the following:
1. Be reasonable in your expectations for 2016. This world is messed up!
2. Do not make the same mistakes in 2016 that robbed you of your joy in 2015. Do not beat yourself up for failures of the past. Do all you can to make things right, forgive yourself and commit as best you can not to make those mistakes again (or again and again and again!).
3. Do not depend on others to make you happy. Most people cannot even make themselves happy.
4. Devote yourself to doing something really important in 2016. Be sure it is far beyond an increased commitment to the basic needs of life (things that money buys like clothing, housing, comfort and food).
5. Find someone (or some thing) that you can love as much as you love yourself and devote yourself as much as you can to their well-being and their progress.
6. Find something real (tangible) to look forward to and think on that often through each day. Move towards it and work for it. Do not do things that tarnish it.
I have given you my formula for joy. Try it. It works.
Happy New Year in 2016. May each coming year be better for you.
(Every one of these things is a biblical concept stripped of biblical language and scriptural reference, which by the way is the formula for all of effective philosophy and all of effective psychology. Everything that works well in life is Bible-based. Therefore, every written or spoken concept that is valuable spoken by any professional either a quote from the Bible or plagiarized from the Bible.)
Rev. Joda Collins
I make no claim that anyone else agrees with my opinions.