December 27, 2017

A Year-End Writing Exercise we need to do Right Now.

“When the whole world hurts, I try to look around me carefully and appreciate the magic that lives in small details and moments. I write everything down. Life goes on. We fight back. And if we can’t or don’t feel like doing so, then we take care of ourselves until we’re ready. It’s okay. It will be okay.” ~ Natalia Peris


2017 has been a hard year for everyone.

Personally, nationally, and globally, we’ve all faced things we never thought we’d have to, and we’re all going into 2018 with a few more battle scars than before.

But while it’s easy to focus on all the bad, it’s important for us to also acknowledge the good—and to acknowledge and accept the paradox of how everything has both positive and negative connotations.

This year, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to be more positive. Every evening, one of my close friends and I sent each other a list of three positive thoughts about the day.

I kept this up even on the day my grandfather died, the day I had a fight with my sister, the day I lost my dream job, and every day when I felt off for no discernible reason.

It was hard, sometimes. But it was also wonderful. Positivity can often be thinly-veiled denial, but for me, being more positive taught me to recognize and appreciate goodness in even the smallest of moments like finding a dandelion on my walk, or my brother making me coffee, or noticing pretty clouds, or just not being as stressed out and overwhelmed as I had been the day before.

It helped me be more balanced, too. I’m prone to extremities; everything, for me, is either life-shatteringly terrible or perfectly, flawlessly amazing. Recognizing the positive in every good, bad, or in-between day helped me level my emotions out and see things more objectively.

As we neared the end of the year, I decided to do a similar exercise: I made a list of 52 positive thoughts about the year. I initially aimed for 17—because, you know, 2017—but as I listed them, I found myself remembering more and more good things about the year until I hit 52.

I didn’t expect this simple exercise to have the effect it did.

I teared up as I wrote it, overwhelmed with gratitude for the experiences I’ve had this year, everyone I’ve met or grown closer to, and all the different ways in which I’ve grown.

I encourage you to give this exercise a shot. It wont take you more than 20 minutes tops, but it’ll do you so much good. Pick a number—any number—and just go for it.

A word of advice: don’t be choosy about what counts as “worthy” enough to go on the list. If you remain open, you’ll be surprised and delighted by what surfaces.

My list included my first full-time job, my sister’s wedding, and my first piece published on Elephant Journal but it also included growing my hair out, a few really good books I’m grateful to have read, and my one year anniversay as a vegetarian.

Writing my list helped me come to terms with everything that happened in 2017, and as a result, I’m going into 2018 not with piles of baggage, bitterness, and issues unfaced, but with a light and open heart. I wish nothing but the same for you.


Author: Aimee-Claire Smith
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis

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Aimee-Claire Smith