As each year draws to an end and the new one approaches, I inevitably find myself reflecting on the past year and doing some planning for the next. I know many people who do this, maybe most people do, especially as our number of years on this rock increase.
We could reflect in many different ways: with a mind to count regrets, to relive joys, or to find opportunities to improve.
I’m not one to carry regrets, since I believe the sum of our past is who we are today. If we generally like the person we have become, then there is little to truly regret, only things that create lessons to help make us better. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be sorry for the things we wish we hadn’t done or should have done. Regrets can be dealt with by acknowledging the negative behavior, apologizing, making amends, and never repeating. In my Christian faith we call this repenting. This allows us to let go and move forward.
To forever carry the burden of our past sins is unhealthy and unfair. It’s unhealthy in so many ways on our mental and physical well being. It’s unfair because everyone makes mistakes and we should all receive and give forgiveness, especially to ourselves. Forgiveness heals and gives us permission to release past burdens and to become better humans.
As for looking forward, I’m an optimist. I choose to focus my time and attention on things other than what the many negative forces around me are trying pull me into. We have very limited time here. We’re born terminal. So, why not live as high on the mountain as we can for as long as possible?
Sure, I miss the mark sometimes. I dream bigger than a realist would. But I’m also opening the door to build a story I want to tell, a story that encourages others to do that same. And the odds are with me that living healthy and being active will more likely result in a longer and more amazing story.
Science Daily reports that people who do not smoke, are not obese, and only moderately consume alcohol can expect to live seven years longer than the general population, and to spend most of these extra years in good health.
That’s seven more years with loved ones, doing more amazing adventures, or just simply avoiding our last years riddled with self-induced health issues (which is a great place to harbor regret). Of course, we can never know our end; that’s the mystery of life. But I like the consistently reported, positive prognosis of a healthy, active lifestyle.
Be good to yourself this coming year. Choose to live a longer and more exciting story. Decide to put your energy on the positive side.
If you’re on the couch reading this right now, shut off your screen, stand up, move, and start planning your next great adventure!