Everywhere around me I seen pain. I see anguish. I see depression. I see grief. I see loss. I see sadness and I see despair. At times I feel completely overwhelmed by what I see and I feel impotent, not only in my ability to respond and help ease others' pain, but also in my ability to cope with seeing so much pain around me.
It seems that just about everyone I know has had a really rough 12 months. Towards the end of the year, I've seen countless people posting to social media declaring that they've had enough and they just want the New Year to come on as quickly as possible, and not only that, but this next year is going to be so much better than the last.
Now, I get it, I really do. I too, like so many, have had a rough 12 months. But I have to be honest with you: wishing away the pain and focussing on the goodness that the future will bring is a fundamentally flawed idea.
You see, you have no way of knowing if life is going to get any better, and let's be honest, it might not get better. I know that sounds harsh, but it's true. You can't control what's going to happen to you. I mean, you can make good choices that will hopefully have a positive impact on you, but overall you have very limited control.
What you do have control of is how you respond. And that's only in your control right now. This very minute, to this very situation.
With all the posts that I saw to social media about this rotten past year, I saw one in particular that caught my attention. The person talked about how rotten things have been and how much they were looking forward to the next year being so much better. One after another of their friends chimed in and talked about their own rough year. But then someone posted these simple words:
"What's wrong with the present moment?"
What a brilliant question. We spend so much of our time and emotional energy trying to escape the current moment, but we can't. Well you can, kind of. You can have a big sleep to give yourself a break, but eventually you wake up and you're back in the moment again.
So what should we do?
Live in that moment. Accept it; the good, the bad and the ugly. And that, my friends, gives you more power than you realise.
To quote the wise words of M. Scott Peck, the author of The Road Less Travelled: "Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult, once we truly understand and accept it, then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters."
And he's not alone in his sentiment. Author Robert Holden has also said: "Beware of Destination Addiction... a preoccupation with the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job and with the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are."
This doesn't mean you'll feel the pain any less, but you will feel more in control. And that does help. I know this, because I'm slowly learning to practice it myself.
And having said that, I hope you have a wonderful year.