By Jayant Kalawar, January 2, 2020
Like clockwork, 2019 has passed us by.
Left us memories of pleasures,
accomplishments and excitements.
Of moments of joy and peace
Of disappointments and sorrows,
frustrations and anger.
Deepening some connections,
Beginning new ones.
Weakening some, severing others.
What do I want to keep? What to let go? What do I want to build anew?
Well, actually if I could, I would like to keep just a few specific positive memories from 2019 and let go of the rest, both positive and negative.
I don’t think it is possible to let go of memories. But maybe be they can be moved to some faraway distant storage?! That way they are not lurking around to trigger us every day into doing or saying things that we then regret.
So I begin by thinking backwards from December to January of 2019. Month by month.
For each month I try to remember things that happened that gave me a feeling of well-being and of unease. I think of my health and in my late 60s I have some aches and pains that routinely spring to life. Remembering specific things helps to contemplate on what I should have done differently to manage these little friends that keep springing up. This way I begin to make a ‘lessons learned’ list! I have been able to add a new 3 minute daily exercise for my knees, for example. So I can move my memories of knee pain and weakness away into deep storage and instead add this new exercise segment into my daily activity.
I do the same, to remember the times I may have been upset with my dear and near ones, as I go back in the year, month by month. What could I have done differently so that I would not get so upset? And repeatedly so. The pattern becomes more obvious when I go through such a contemplative exercise for each of the 12 months. Beginning of a new year is a good time to do this, quietly by one self. I learn from it. It is one thing to say I should be more patient. Another to learn for one self how to say something differently, not jump to conclusions for example. Or come up with solutions. Asking more open ended questions in a way that would be less irritating, perhaps. So again, to let go of the memories of the pattern of upsets and hopefully to learn how not to repeat that pattern in 2020.
And then there is problem-solving we all do every day. Whether at home or at work or at play. This is something I particularly like to contemplate on. To see what problem solving was difficult for me. What caused anxiety and how was it resolved. How could I have done that problem solving differently. Much of the problem solving we do is collaborative. Going to buy or sell a car for example. To solve that problem requires many different players and many different factors coming into play. I have to come up to speed on who does what and so on in the car buying or selling process. Lots of prep work needs to be done before going in and engaging to solve the problem of buying or selling a car. Same thing with investing: buying or selling stocks or bonds for example. Or buying or selling a house. Same rules apply: contemplate on specific problem solving events backwards month by month in 2019. What could I have done differently to have better outcomes? What can I learn from that and how can I change how I solve problems in 2020? More research, patience, asking questions, being pro-active are some general things. All this take more time. So giving more time up front in how I plan the problem solving process is something that I hope to build in to the way I solve complex problems in 2020.
Hope you get some idea from these examples of my own step by step attempts to learn from 2019, so I can move most of the memories into far away distant storage while keeping most of the lessons learned. And so, hopefully, become a somewhat better person in 2020 (my new year’s resolution). Perhaps you may try some of this for yourself. Especially if you believe there is room for you to be a somewhat better person in 2020.