It’s a new year, a chance to correct some things, change some things, start and stop some things, and maybe continue some things. One way to do this is to look back on this year, and reflect on the things you did right because you are going to want to keep them. And as you think of things you want to add, you are going to have to lose some things because life is often a zero-sum game (but not always).

I’m convinced that if I add neatness to my list, I’ll have to subtract creativity, but that’s a rabbit hole I wish not to travel.  Or if I improve my  spelling, I’m afraid my humor will suffer. Well, at least I’m trying.

So, this year, rather than losing twenty pounds, biking a century, and looking like the old guy on the supplement commercial, I’ve added a new one – JOY. If it brings me joy – I pursue it. If it doesn’t – I discard it. For example, writing brings me joy, so it comes first and I plan my day around it. Getting published is not a resolution, it’s a goal. Running brings me joy, so I add it but I leave my watch behind.  Running with the Kenyans is not a resolution, it’s a dream.

Politics have never brought me joy, I realized this year, so I eliminated all political stations from my radio, from the Right and Left. I chose not to watch tainted news, and I will no longer engage in worthless conversations that will not change your opinion or the world. Sorry Facebook friends, but life is short. If you have a political ax to grind, you will have to grind it on another friend’s page. Being president is not a resolution, it’s a delusion.

In it’s place is a prayer list. I don’t pray for travel mercies or job applications – I leave that to others. I pray for those who have lost. I pray for the ones searching for Joy. This year the list of people I know who have lost children to drugs and alcohol has grown. This year the number of people I know who have cancer has also grown. And this year the number of people I know who gave up on life has grown. You have all made my prayer list.

 

It may seem like a contradiction – to focus on joy juxtaposed to death but I don’t see it that way. Some would see it as a purpose driven life.

At the end of 2017 I got to see my brother-in-law who just had triple bypass surgery, my nephew who found his birth mother after 50 years, my niece who is glowing with pregnancy after years of trying, and a dear friend who I hadn’t talked to in 50 years but also lost her son. Here’s the miracle – they were all in the same room. And they all brought me insurmountable joy. It was a day when something special was added to my zero-sum life.

That’s not a mistake or a coincidence. That’s another one of those miracles that I experience along the trail as I continue to HYOH – hike your own hike.

So, this year I encourage each of you to let go of happiness to practice joy, ignore the obvious to look for miracles, and step on discouragement to hope for one another.

 

Looking back over this blog, I realize another thing I added to my life – these infernal dashes. Looks like I overdid it.  This year, my hope is that you will overdo joy.

 

Andy is a Clinical Psychologist who lost his son in a tragic motorcycle accident and now authors articles on bereavement. The quiz is available! Go to http://andymdavidson.com/Home/Pgd to find out if you may have Prolonged Grief Disorder. Look forward to his upcoming posts, and books. Follow him at his website, AndyMDavidson.com and Facebook.com/ThroughLifeandLoss to find out more about prolonged grief.