16 Ways I Want to Live a Little Brighter

2016 was certainly a year. It happened. I will not be sorry to see it go far, far away. However, that’s not to say that I want to completely forget about it. In fact, I hope that it’s a year that I never forget because you know what? Yes, it was a terrible year. It really was. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t learn from it and actively try to make 2017 a better year. My sister made this post to her Facebook on December 3rd and it really spoke to me:

“Thought of the day while running: My dad and I played cribbage as I grew up. As he was explaining strategy to me he told me that what makes a player a good player is how they play the bad hands. If a hand has no points, you can still get points while pegging. So, not all is lost in a bad hand. Tying that to my running thoughts, life isn’t always perfect…actually it usually isn’t perfect no matter what Facebook says. But if you can look at how your shortcomings can be positive even in a little way, you’re playing your life cards correctly. Life isn’t about the hand that’s dealt to you, life is about how you play the hand.”

So with that, here are 16 lessons I’ve learned in 2016 and the resolutions I’ve made because of them.

Terrible experiences are always going to happen.

It’s true. It’s a part of life. This year has really shown me that. Whether it be a worldwide catastrophe, death, a personal devastating moment or anything in between. As a young woman, I have experienced more negative moments than the average person does in their whole lifetime. But I’ve learned to accept what I cannot control and to utilize my experiences to help others. I will not be negative even when that’s all the world throws at me.

My Resolution: To laugh as often as I can and to share my laughter with as many people as I can.

It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. What matters is that you’ve learned what’s right for you.

Arguments are good things. I have friends that I debate with pretty much every time I talk with them. We don’t agree on a lot of topics, but we respect each other’s opinions and learn from them. Their opinions aren’t 100% correct and neither are mine, but my opinions are right for me and their opinions are right for them. It shouldn’t be a goal to change someone, but to open people’s minds to see other’s opinions.

My resolution: To actively seek new opinions and thoughts. To attempt understand those opinions even if I don’t agree with them.

Asking for help does not make you weak.

I am independent to the point where it is a flaw. I struggle with asking for help. I always have. After I got cancer, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do mundane tasks by myself like driving or doing laundry. Asking for help with those activities has been the hardest transition for me. I have been learning that it is okay to ask for help. It’s okay to be dependent at times. Be aware of when you no longer need to be dependent and can go back to living a more independent lifestyle.

My resolution: To be patient with myself when I can’t do something on my own. To find the strength to ask for help when I am too weak to stand alone.

You always have a choice to do the right thing.

Doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest, but it should be done.

My resolution: To do the right thing, even if it hurts sometimes.

Being kind is free.

I was in a grocery store and had just shaved my head a few days prior. While I love rocking the bald look now, it took a few days for me to settle into it. I have had long hair my whole life so revealing a bald look to the world was nerve wracking. Anyways, I was walking through the grocery store (with a hat on because I was self-conscious) and I had asked a woman who had had her cart in the middle of the aisle to move it to one side so I could get through. She was not pleased that I, a younger person, had the audacity to ask her, an older woman, to move her cart over. She eventually did but was clearly not pleased that I had asked in the first place.

I was somewhat distressed by this. To prove a point, I walked passed, said thank you and have a happy holidays and removed my hat. She was startled by my lack of hair, mumbled a your welcome and stumbled away. I continued to be polite and kind throughout this process. I didn’t want to start anything, but I did want to remind that woman of something very important:

You have no idea what’s happening in anyone else’s day. They could be having the best day ever or the worst. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be kind to others, especially strangers. If someone chooses to be rude to you, you have the power to stand tall and be kind towards them, even if they may not deserve it. Instead of feeding negativity with negativity, feed it with positivity.

My resolution: I want to continue to share kindness with strangers in hopes of brightening their day and mine.

Without experiencing terrible things, how on earth could you recognize the good parts in your life?

I LEARNED THIS SO HARD THIS YEAR. I got cancer. I didn’t get an internship over the summer that I so badly wanted. I had to leave school. My mom decided to put a hold on her education so she could take care of me. I’m in the hospital. A lot.

But you know what? Without those negative parts of my life, how could I recognize the good things that happened this year? I got to perform in a theatre festival in Ohio where I originated a role. I stage managed my first show. I got to study theatre and the arts for a whole year. I found my passion. I started a blog and I’m writing my first script. I’m doing things I’ve never done before and I really, really love it.

My resolution: To acknowledge and appreciate the negative parts of my life so I can truly love the great parts.

Sleep has value.

As a college student, I have had my fair share of all nighters. Too many in fact. And it isn’t worth it. The affects sleep deprivation has on your body both in the short term and long term aren’t good. Besides, sleeping has unexplained healing benefits. Why not utilize that?

My resolution: To get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Self-care should be a priority.

I wish I didn’t have to explain this one. I wish people would take the time they need to take care of themselves. But some don’t and it leads to increased anxiety and stress and further mental and physical damage. To be truthful, for a very long time, I never focused on my own self-care until I absolutely had to, but that’s not how it should be.

You are worth the time it takes to heal and recover. Whether it be from a stressful day or a rough week. You deserve time for you. If that means taking a day from work or a weekend where you don’t speak to anyone and do what makes you happy, do it. Take care of you. No one knows you better than you.

My resolution: To recognize when I’m overloaded and to take the time I need to recover and heal.

Appreciate your body for what it is.

I have heard from some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met how much they hate their bodies. More so this year than any other year. How they’ve gained too much weight, they don’t feel beautiful, they’re too weak, they don’t like their acne, etc. And it kills me a little any time I hear these people tear themselves down over things that no one else in the universe would ever notice.

Like any person, I too have a love/hate relationship with my body. A couple months ago it had been more of a hate relationship. I was so angry with the fact that my body was/is sick and there is only one way I can fix it. And the way to fix it was not going to be easy for anyone involved.

Now, it’s grown to be an appreciation of my body because my body is mine. And if I don’t take care of it, no one else will. While I don’t love my body all the time, I am learning to appreciate it.

My resolution: To appreciate my body all the time.

No one can ever say “I love you” enough.

My family has a small tradition. Whenever someone enters the house, we give them a hug and a kiss hello. Then, when they leave, we give them a hug and a kiss goodbye and tell them that we love them. Even if we’re mad at them we still say I love you. We do it for a very specific purpose: to remind that person that even if we’re mad, being mad is temporary but love is forever. What would happen should they walk out that door and not come back and the last words they heard you say were something awful? You can never get those last words back. Make them good.

My resolution: Say I love you more.

You will never stop learning.

I had already known this, but never really understood this to the capacity that I do now. Most people limit their learning environments to school and work. I know I did, but by doing so, I was limiting my own ability to learn from even the strangest of moments. To learn from friends, family, strangers, animals, the list goes on forever. We should all be open to learning all the time.

My resolution: To learn at least one new thing every week and to share it with you.

Reroute, reroute, reroute.

Life isn’t going to go as planned. Ever. You will be thrown off guard and trampled. You will be lifted and praised. But it will never be when you plan it to happen. Be ready for whatever may come your way and be ready to go create a new route. Your goals and dreams don’t have to change, but your path to get there will. Just be ready for it.

My resolution: To be open to changing my path to achieve my goals.

Experiencing life does not need to make you hard to the love that surrounds you.

If I haven’t mentioned it enough, 2016 was a hard year for a lot of people. It was for me. But the bad things that have happened this year for me do not need to make me hard. I do not need to build a wall around my heart to protect myself from the bad things. I’ve learned that instead of isolating myself to protect myself that I should instead surround myself with people who love me and are there for me. They can’t solve my problems, but they can encourage and support and love me if I let them.

My resolution: To share both the good and bad parts of life with the people I love.

Love as wide and as deep and as strongly as you can.

You should never be ashamed of expressing love. Ever. Any form of love. And if anyone tries to make fun of you for it, you just say “I love you too” and moon dance away from them. You being able to express your love for yourself, others, books, movies, guilty pleasures and whatever else makes you a strong and incredible person.

My resolution: To embrace my weird love and to never stop loving.

Crying is good for the soul.

It isn’t wrong for you to feel your feelings, whatever they may be. If you’ve gotta cry, cry and make it count. If you need to laugh, make sure your abs hurt by the end. Make sure that you can pick yourself up and move forward when you’re done.

My resolution: To really feel my feelings, learn from them and be able to move forward.

Never stop being thankful.

I forget to be grateful for the good things in this universe. And right now I am so grateful for the people in my life, the roof over my head and for the fact that this year is almost done.

My resolution: To take time out of each day to recognize and be thankful for at least one thing.

So here’s to the New Year! May it be a brighter year for all. I love you and thank you for reading.

 

Until next time,

Dana

 

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