I’m 100% serious here. I can clearly see many alarming global and local trends, but the worst trend of all is the attention economy that rewards extremism and apocalyptic beliefs. I know some regions of the world are deeply torn by terror and war, but when you put that in proper perspective we’re still living in the most peaceful times in human history. Despite what your Facebook feed tells you, the world is not ending yet, and those with different political or religious views are not monsters or brainwashed puppets. The sooner we realize the stone-age software in our brains can’t properly handle clickbait headlines, information overload, and Internet bursts of outrage, the sooner we’ll be able to see the world and other people as they actually are – an incredible place with perfectly fine human beings.
Another popular reason to hate 2016 is an unfair number of celebrity deaths. It’s true that we’ve lost many talented musicians these days, and I’m sure Planet Earth will never be the same without the Starman and princess Leia. However, I guess it’s high time to admit we’re not kids anymore, and seeing our childhood heroes go away is a natural part of growing up. They will only keep getting older and older and eventually dying one by one, so I don’t expect any upcoming year to be much better in this regard. Actually, the only certain thing in life is that we’re all going to die some day, so we might as well accept the fact and make the most of whatever time we still have available.
While I’m still far from perfect in making good use of my time, 2016 was certainly the year when I’ve made the most progress so far. I’m more mature than ever, quite certain what I want in life, and learning every day how to get there. I don’t have any master plan, and it’s not like I’ve figured it all. Sometimes I’d still rather stay in bed for the whole day, or get really upset and cry for no reason. But now that 2016 is almost over, I’m looking back and seeing this year has brought me lots of things I’ve always dreamed of – and more.
It’s quite hard for me to believe, but in the last year I have:
– visited 5 new countries and two continents for the first time;
– bungee jumped from a crazy tall bridge in South Africa:
– gave up smoking;
– started drawing and painting, which brings me more joy than I would have ever guessed;
– bought a bike and made it my primary means of transportation;
– spent over a month traveling and working at the same time;
– stargazed in Canadian wilderness surrounded by perfect darkness;
– rode a huge zipline between two mountains;
– rented an RV in Canada and hopped from one beautiful spot to another
– read 30 great books;
– seen red rivers, glaciers, waterfalls, giraffes, lions, rhinos and other wonders of nature;
– swam with sea turtles;
– climbed a pyramid;
– scuba dived in an underwater museum;
– petted an elephant;
– hugged a dozen giant trees;
– visited Mexico on the All Saints Day;
– watched a Cirque du Soleil show;
Looking at all of above, I can’t feel for the current year anything else but gratitude. The bar is raised quite high to make 2017 even better than that. Even though so much stuff in life is totally beyond my control, there’s still a lot I can do to get the most out of the new year, whatever it brings.
If your family and friends are alive and healthy, and yet you believe 2016 was the worst year ever, perhaps you’ve been tricked by the attention economy culture, where everything is BREAKING NEWS, SHOCKING and APPALLING. You may believe you’re fighting for the right cause, but political discussions on the Internets are not going to change the world or anyone’s minds. Actually, they get the society even more polarized and full of hate.
I’ve made my choice to give up on political news and rants completely, and instead to focus on my own attitude, habits and actions. These are the things I can control. These are the things that let me make the world a tiny little bit better on my own micro scale. Not to mention that traveling the world, doing meaningful work, helping people, or painting has much bigger effect on my day-to-day happiness than anything that happens out there.
2017 will be what you make of it. Don’t let random bullshit ruin it for you.