I’m typing this article sitting outside my apartment while a throng of fireworks litters the skies. I expect that for much of this night, sleep might be either downright impossible, or thanks to my neighbours, socially unacceptable. So, while I spend time with some neighbours, let me conjure an article.
At the borders of 2019, I saw a friend’s WhatsApp status filled with lamentations about the receding year. This friend had entered 2018 with an engagement ring only to depart with a level of disillusionment towards relationships. This loss was worsened by disappointments over money and job expectations. As I read this friend’s assertion that nothing had been gained in 2018, I felt that was impossible. No matter the bad events, I do not believe anyone can go through 365 days without having any reasons to be happy or thankful on some days.
I moved on to Facebook and saw another friend talk about the challenges that beautified 2018. This person appeared upbeat despite all that occurred in the year. One thing was clear; it was all about perspectives. Many persons would be familiar with the half-filled or half-empty analogy but fewer persons commonly apply this to their lives. Optimism does not have to be too quixotic but can help keep our heads above water regardless of the currents assailing us.
On my part, 2018 was quite an interesting year. I had my ups and downs but I always remained confident that everything would turn out for my good. We might laugh at “religious people” as being unrealistic, however, as a Christian, I can speak of the assurance of hope that faith brings. It effectively forms an anchor that gives me confidence to look storms in the eyes and smile knowing I cannot be shipwrecked. There is that optimism that Murphy’s Law cannot fathom.
I believe the ability to stay optimistic is key to staying sane through life. In the last year, we have had an increased number of suicides reported in Nigeria. Setting clinical depression aside, I feel those who attempted suicide lost the ability to be optimistic. Nigerians used to be known for the “E go better” philosophy, where people generally remained hopeful of situations turning around. This must have driven our recognition as the happiest nation on earth despite the depressing socioeconomic indices. However, it seems we are losing that hopeful vibe as we have moved from happiest to ninety-first happiest in about a decade.
Having a heart of gratitude is one important driver of optimism. This is what enables you to see a cup as half-full and look forward to getting it filled. Gratitude is what keeps you from comparing your salary to the rock stars in your class. Instead, you recognise that there are others in your class who do not earn up to you or might not even have a job. You recognise that someone in your class might have died and is unable to care about rankings nor lists. Gratitude inspires hope and must not be lost no matter what comes your way.
2019 offers a fresh start. If you feel 2018 was a bad year, here is your chance to build a good year. If your 2018 was good, better is possible. Just look at the immense possibilities that lie ahead. Live, love, and be happy. Do not let anyone take your joy from you. Do not let anyone make you feel less than you are. You have a fresh slate to write your own story. Passivity would not help. Actively prod 2019 towards your goals like a game of chess. Who knows, the odds might be fully in your favour.
All I have typed here is an advice to myself. 2019 is my year of exceptional blessedness. Right now, I have a friend to empathise with and plant a tree of optimism. This should be my easiest goal in 2019. While I set out to achieve it, do have a wonderful year.
Happy New Year!
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